Boosting conversions in online payments: Key facts that every merchant should know

Online payment conversion rates deserve the attention of every business owner. Every year, sales totalling over 100 billion are lost thanks to an online payment approval rate of just 85%. Consequently, if your website isn’t yet optimised for quick and seamless online payments, you’re probably missing out on a sizeable chunk of additional revenue.

Challenging-to-locate shopping carts, untrustworthy checkout pages, and reduced connectivity with local banking networks are just a few of the issues preventing businesses from increasing their online payment conversions. With that in mind, what changes can you make to ensure you’re converting as many payments as possible?

SafeCharge and Visa Joint Webinar: How to Overcome Payment Declines and Drive Higher Approval Rates

As part of our efforts to provide retailers with the knowledge and information they need to improve online conversion rates, we conducted an insightful webinar jointly with Visa and IMRG.

In this session, we discussed how to overcome payment declines and best practices to help drive higher approval rates as much as 15%.

Myself and our panel of payments experts shared valuable answers and insights on the following questions:

  • How does an optimised checkout process affect conversion?
  • Is PSD2 a conversion-boosting opportunity?
  • How does Visa optimise conversions?

Take an Overarching View of Your Website

When looking to improve conversions, many entrepreneurs skip straight to the payment page itself. However, there are plenty of opportunities for site-wide improvements that can have a positive effect on online payments.

Build Trust
First of all, trust is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to completed transactions. If a customer doesn’t feel that they can trust your website, they won’t feel comfortable entering their card information at the checkout stage.

One way to build that trust is by installing high-level SSL certificates across your site, especially at the checkout page. The padlock displayed next to the URL indicates to the customer that your website is safe, and therefore, they will feel more at ease with inputting their card details.

Another trust symbol comes in the form of security badges. Norton Security, Google Trusted Store, and McAfee SECURE are all examples of trust seals that can have a conversion-increasing effect.

Make Call to Actions Prominent
To boost online payment conversions, you need to make sure that the route to the checkout is as painless and frictionless as possible. Call to actions (CTAs) such as “Add to Cart” and “Checkout” should be prevalent throughout each webpage.

Whilst they shouldn’t be obnoxious, they should stand out so that each customer is under no illusion about how to buy items. Ideally, online shoppers should never be more than one click away from starting the checkout process.

It’s a good idea to A/B test your CTAs to understand how the shape, size, and colour of your buttons affect conversion rates. Lighter shades have been proven to increase conversions over darker, harder to see, checkout buttons.

Make Pertinent Information Visible
Customers want to clearly understand the shipping and returns policies of retailers before making a purchase. They need to know how long it will take for a product to arrive, whether any additional import duties are due (if based abroad), and how to return items if unhappy with the quality of the product(s) received.

Upwards of 50% of customers will read a returns policy, so it’s good practice to make it readily available, rather than buried in small print within the footer of a website. Short and unambiguous policies help readers to understand how the process works clearly and aids conversion.

The Checkout Page Is the Most Important Piece of the Puzzle

While implementing the above tips will help with conversion-boosting, the actions you take to improve the checkout experience will have the most significant impact on increasing your successful online payments ratio. Below are steps you can take to increase payment acceptance by making improvements to your payments page.

Use a Branded Checkout
Nothing shakes a would-be consumers confidence more than exiting a website to complete payment. Online retailers often make use of a payment platform to handle transactions to ensure superior functionality and PCI-compliance. However, the experience of landing on an alien payments page will skyrocket abandoned checkouts. Using a hosted payment solution provider that facilitates brand customisation helps customers feel safe when making their purchase.

Frictionless Checkouts
One of the biggest causes of cart abandonment is onerous check out pages. Customers often baulk at the thought of having to provide several time-consuming details and registering for an account. Creating a checkout with as few fields as possible will boost conversion rates. Time is critical to consumers. Therefore, the faster the checkout process is, the higher conversion rates are.

Dynamically Display Local Currency
Customers are less likely to complete payment if they don’t know how much it costs in their home currency. Therefore, it’s wise to use a checkout page that dynamically displays information based on a user’s location. Not only will you increase consumer comprehension, and therefore conversions, but you’ll also abide by local laws.

Accept Regionally-Preferred Payment Methods
Customers who have access to their preferred payment method are the most likely to convert. Despite the ubiquitous nature of credit cards, not all nations use them as their preferred payment method. For example, 65% of Chinese consumers prefer using mobile payment apps such as WeChat and Alipay. Online retailers who don’t offer local payment functionality will suffer lower conversion rates.

Equip Your Checkout with the Latest Fraud Tools
Declined transactions flagged as potentially fraudulent can have a significant impact on payment conversions. That’s why it makes sense to make use of the latest machine-learning anti-fraud tools such as 3DS2 to ensure that no legitimate transactions are declined based on suspected fraud. It also helps to reduce chargeback ratios, as purchases made via 3DS2 are much harder to challenge with card issuers.

Remove the Stumbling Blocks Associated with Local Acquirers
For international retailers, one of the biggest drivers of declined transactions is local acquirer acceptance. It used to be the case that retailers had to build the accepted formatting and correct routing into checkout pages to be approved for each local financial institution. But today this is no longer the case. Online payment pages from leading providers such as SafeCharge are acquirer agnostic, routing payments exactly where they need to be for increased acceptance rates.

Add Cart Recovery Functionality
In some instances, transactions are correctly declined for reasons such as insufficient funds. However, the sale can still be saved by immediately offering to continue the purchase with a different card or payment method. By removing the need to complete the checkout process again, declines can be recovered, boosting conversion rates. 

Partial Approval Functionality
Another feature of decline recovery is partial approval. Leading payment service providers can approve purchases of certain items within a cart before offering the user the option of removing others that exceed the funds remaining within the selected payment method.

Acquire The Ultimate Payment Solution for Your Online Business
There are many steps you can take to increase online payment conversions. Some come in the form of improving critical components of your website. But those improvements pale into insignificance when compared to changes made to payment pages.

Here at SafeCharge, we’ve created a frictionless checkout that provides a superior customer experience while increasing back-end functionality.

With our totally-customisable hosted payments solution, you can take advantage of one-click payments, dynamic locally-displayed information, and industry-leading decline recovery protocols. Better still with 3DS2 compatibility, and an intelligent fraud rules engine, fraudulent transactions are stopped in their tracks, or sent for extra authentications to ensure continued conversion.

Our checkout solutions have been proven to decrease cart abandonment and declined transactions, helping our clients secure an increase in approval rates by an average of 7%-9%.

About the author:
Guy Douek, SVP Business Operations
Guy is responsible for the entire strategic direction as well as commercial and operational management of SafeCharge’s merchants, channels and partnership. Guy has over 10 years’ experience in diverse roles in the various payments functions across both the merchants side as well as a payment provider.
Guy joined SafeCharge from Gett (a global ride hailing company) where he was a Global Head of Payments. Previously he was Head of Risk (alternative payments) at Worldpay.


SafeCharge Limited is an Electronic Money Institution authorised and regulated by the Central Bank of Cyprus and is a principal member of Mastercard, Visa and Unionpay International (CUP). SafeCharge Financial Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority as a Payment Institution. Both SafeCharge companies are wholly owned by SafeCharge International Group Limited.