I had an interesting conversation with a client today that I wanted to share. PayPal has introduced some restrictions which meant they could no longer use them for sales of certain items. They were weighing up the pros and cons of making some changes to the shop code, to prevent these items being sold via PayPal or taking the payment option off the site altogether.

My first reaction was to advise them to keep the PayPal option. While at first glance this restriction looked a bit severe, around 50% of their stock was affected, on closer inspection 7 of the 10 bestselling lines could still be processed using them. This accounted to well over 70% of their total monthly sales. With their permission, this was part of the email the company CEO sent me:

I have checked Paypal for the amount of sales but I think people will pay with whatever payment options are available, not so sure it would affect us in terms of sale completions?

Also checked and only found 1 other Widget Store in the UK who uses Paypal, spoken to a few friendly stores who just use an online banking system like Protx or just accept card payments by phone.

Now in my book the more payment options you have the better. I’ve seen this first hand on stores we run but there have been various studies done, one in 2004 by CyberSource suggested that having four payment methods increased conversion by 20%

According to the data, merchants can convert as many as 20% more customers by offering them more payment types to choose from. Those merchants offering one payment type, such as general purpose credit cards, for example, convert 60% of their shoppers. Those offering four types, e.g., credit cards, gift certificates, eChecks, PayPal, etc., convert 72% of their shoppers–a 20% increase

PayPal themselves suggest a 14% rise from their own studies. So why do more payment choices equal more sales? In my opinion this comes down to three key factors, trust, security and convenience.

Trust

Users have concerns about giving details to merchants or unfamiliar payment providers. Payment gateways have varying levels of brand recognition with consumers, some are completely unknown to international buyers. Trust is a large aspect of the buying process, and if the brand has value for the user they are far happier to hand over their sensitive credit card details. This is especially true of PayPal or Google Checkout as the payment process is completed on the website of the provider, not the merchant.

Security

The user may also know that their chosen gateway provider can help them with refunds should the payment go wrong. With an unknown payment provider they may feel less confident that they can get their money returned, or that the process will be more difficult.

Convenience

People get used to using one common method of payment online. They may just want to have one central place to check their outgoing payments and print off their invoices or just prefer that method when buying online. These people actively seek out merchants who provide this payment type or award your shop points if they see it there. Meeting this requirement can be the reason they choose to shop with you in the first place.

So for me looking around and seeing that only 1 other Widget Store uses PayPal is an opportunity, not a reason to drop them. A unique selling point for your shop that differentiates you from the competition.

OK so what are the three things we walk away with from this article?

1. Adding more payment methods increases the chances of your client making a sale and can be a unique selling point for them.

2. If users trusts and looks for certain brands of payment, make the fact you provide them obvious on the entry and landing pages of your shop, don’t just hide them on the payment section. These companies have already done the leg work on getting the brand recognised, use that to your advantage.

3. Deleting these payment options may make these users leave, don’t assume they will just use another method. You may just have sent your hard earned customer to the other Widget Store that does let them shop they way they want.

Digital strategist and consultant. Founder at E3 Business Incubator, a consultancy network helping enterprises and start-ups. Extensive experience across digital channels, with specialist knowledge of SEO, content marketing and paid distribution.

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