The Secrets Behind High-Converting Checkouts

High-converting checkouts are the dream of every business owner. With the average cart abandonment rate hitting 69.57% according to research undertaken by the Baymard Institute, it’s clear that online retailers that get the checkout process right will significantly increase their revenues.

After accruing years of experience in the payments industry, and through hundreds of conversations with the merchants we serve, I’ve come to the conclusion that the most significant factor in high-converting checkouts is trust. That said, back-end conversion-boosting tools and fraud management software are also crucial components in driving up successful transactions.

Bearing that in mind, let examine those elements in closer detail.

Improve Consumer Trust in the Payment Process

We’ve found that when online retailers try to optimise their checkout process, the most significant factor is trust. Nearly a fifth of all cart abandonments are a result of a customer not trusting a website to handle payment information.

By working hard with our clients, we’ve developed a solution that helps to build trust to eliminate carts abandoned over this specific issue.

Localised Payment Pages
A customer is going to struggle to trust a company that’s unable to display prices in their local currency or display vital payment instructions in the local language. If a customer cannot understand specific factors on the payments page (such as currency or language), they are almost certain to abandon their purchase in favour of a retailer they can trust.

Therefore, payment pages that dynamically adapt to a user’s location using IP address identification can dramatically increase conversions. By implementing localised payment pages, you can increase levels of consumer confidence, and therefore checkout conversions.

Trusted Alternative Payment Methods
As part of your localisation strategy, you need to have a checkout process that features the most prominent local payment methods first. If customers can’t quickly find their preferred payment method, they’ll have their confidence and trust shaken.

For instance, if you fail to offer WeChat and Alipay to consumers from China, your conversion rates will suffer as 65% of Chinese consumers prefer using these mobile payment apps. By contrast, in the EU countries of Hungary, Romania, or Slovakia, the Cash on Delivery (COD) payment method accounts for 54%, 69%, and 72% of all online transactions in these countries respectively. If you fail to prominently display a COD option at checkout, you’ll likely lose the purchase.

Utilise a Branded Checkout
One of the worst actions you could take as a retailer when it comes to trust is taking them off your website to complete a purchase. While it’s typical to use a third-party hosted checkout solution for PCI-compliance purposes (as well as superior performance), if they land on a checkout page that looks completely distinct from your website’s branding, they are almost certain to abort.

Consequently, it’s prudent to implement a third-party solution such as SafeCharge’s checkout page that comes with a theme editor. You can utilise the theme editor to customise the checkout page with your branding to ensure a seamless transition rather than undermining customer trust at the vital moment of entering payment details.

Leverage Technological Innovation to Increase Conversions

Even if a customer trusts your website and proceeds to make a payment, it still might end in a lost sale. Global approval rates are hovering at 85%, leading to a loss of sales worth over $100 billion each year. So, what can you do to drive up higher approval rates?

The best option is to leverage cutting edge technology to better manage your traffic — both on the front end and behind the scenes between issuers and acquirers.

A/B Testing
A/B testing helps you to test which of your page designs are the highest converting simultaneously. By continuously analysing and improving, you can lower the number of cart abandonments. In a recent webinar, my colleague Omri Dubovi, our VP Product Management, ran through the example of one SafeCharge client that was able to reduce abandonment by 12% through A/B testing alone.

While A/B testing is an excellent best practice within one market, it becomes a necessity when operating in multiple countries. A one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn’t work with international operations, due the number of socio-cultural differences across different regions. It could be the case that a high-converting payment page layout in one country is actively harming sales in another. Thus, you need to continuously test to see what works well and what doesn’t.

Decline Recovery
Despite your best efforts, not every transaction goes to plan. How your website reacts and manage these declines can be critical in saving the sale from abandonment. In many cases these declines are legitimate (such as insufficient funds). With decline recovery in place, your payments page will return with the decline page, which states the reason for the decline and how to continue the purchase suggesting the most relevant alternative payment method to this consumer at that given moment.

By saving the details of the cart and your customer’s information, you can keep a decline as frictionless as possible and allow them to reattempt the checkout a mere matter of seconds later, driving up conversions.

Partial Approval
A feature of decline recovery is partial approval. This feature approves part of the transaction for which the issuing bank is happy to approve while presenting alternative options to complete the purchase. Most traditional solutions would merely decline the entire transaction. However, with SafeCharge’s solution, e-commerce merchants can still retrieve either part of or the total value of the sale.

Optimised Routing Between Banks
In some scenarios, everything is correct on both the side of the retailer and the customer, but the transaction isn’t approved. In many instances, this is a result of poor routing choices. That’s why you need to use a payments provider that utilises intelligent cascading routing. This is a process whereby smart payment engines use dynamic routing to present transaction to the correct acquiring partner, increasing your chances of having the payment approved.

Technological Innovation in Numbers
By implementing these SafeCharge solutions, customers have seen a dramatic improvement in their conversion ratios:

  • 5% to 8% of transactions were saved using SafeCharge’s decline recovery tools
  • 15% decrease in total cart abandonments
  • 5% increase in sales volumes via partial approval tools in the UK and Italy
  • 3% increase in approval rates through correctly managing the traffic between different providers

 Use Strong Customer Authentication as a Conversion Boosting Tool

With the introduction of PSD2, many customers fear that the additional authentication requirements may impact conversion rates. However, here at SafeCharge, we see them as an opportunity to boost conversion rates.

Firstly, we believe that the issuer might ease the risk checks on their end for authenticated transactions which will lead to higher conversion in total. Furthermore, the UX associated with 3DS has dramatically improved. With mobile compatibly and advanced authentication methods, the secured user experience should massively improve, bumping up successful transactions.

Lastly, the enhanced data provided by these new solutions will allow merchants to carry out more detailed analysis and implement their findings for improved conversion purposes.

Implement Tokenisation to Prevent Fraud 

Remember, it’s not all about conversion. Losses as a result of fraud are growing by 15% CAGR per year, with 73% of issuer fraud losses due to Card Not Present (CNP) fraud. Token technology can help to mitigate some of the more prevalent methods used to commit fraud.

Firstly, the rich data collected within the token improves risk decisioning, and automatic updating of token details reduces declines due to expired cards. Another critical feature of tokenisation is that customers can continue to shop even if their token has been breached on another site.

Token use is restricted to device, merchant, transaction type or channel helping to prevent fraudulent transactions. Finally, the token also generates a dynamic cryptogram for every single purchase, making it incredibly difficult for fraudsters to operate.

Implement a Premium Payments Solution to Skyrocket Conversions

As demonstrated, our payment solutions have an excellent track record when it comes to reducing cart abandonment and increasing approvals.

We’ve helped our clients secure an increase in approval rates by an average of 7% to 9%, by providing dynamic locally-displayed information, industry-leading decline recovery protocols, and intelligent authentication and anti-fraud technology as part of our all-in-one checkout page.

If you need help in building a high-converting checkout process for your online business, feel free to contact me to discuss options for your online business in private.

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.