Mcommerce: How to optimise your online mobile payments

28th Jul 2014

Global ecommerce continues to rise as customers embrace borderless commerce, and increasingly the world is moving to shopping by mobile and purchasing on the go.

While the uptake of mobile payments may be slower in some parts of the globe than others, there’s no doubt that mobile is the way consumers are heading. Here’s everything you need to know about mobile payments as they relate to ecommerce – where they’ve come from, where they’re going and top tips to ensure your business is offering optimised mobile payments to keep pace in 2014 and beyond.

What are mobile payments?

The term ‘mobile payments’ is quite broad and covers a number of different types: face to face (in-store) and person-to-person, as well as online, and to add to the complexity, these areas can cross over. In the online world alone, mobile payments could mean anything from an optimised payment page – essentially an extension of ecommerce – all the way through to mobile-specific payment mechanisms, such as direct carrier billing or mobile wallets.

Direct carrier billing is where mobile subscribers purchase products and services online using their mobile device, with transactions charged to their phone bills or prepaid balances direct from their handset. It has become an important payment mechanism with the rise of smartphones and app stores and aligns especially well with the purchase of digital goods and in-app payments. The process is quick and simple and enables shoppers to remain relatively anonymous, only needing to provide their phone number to complete payment.

While carrier billing is known for its prominence in emerging markets, a recent report from BI Intelligence showed that carrier billing companies actually make most of their money in developed markets such as North America and Europe. It estimates that carrier billing will power $4 billion in mobile transactions in 2014, or 13% of the global market for mobile digital content.

Mobile wallets offer consumers the ability to store payment methods to use across many different businesses, providing security and convenience. As the digital wallet market has matured, the options have become increasingly diverse. New solutions from the card schemes, such as from Visa and Masterpass from Mastercard, have launched recently, offering consumers more choice, while more established players from the online world, such as PayPal, are beginning to move into new channels through mobile wallet apps.

Other providers, such as Znap, Weve and Isis (which is soon to rebrand following recent events in the Middle East), focus on in-store transactions which use technologies such as NFC and QR Codes to offer contactless payments as well as tying in loyalty programmes and discounts.

Barriers to uptake

The world is moving to payment methods other than credit and debit cards – in fact, the Worldpay Global Guide to Alternative Payments report, released earlier this year, found that alternative payment methods (APMs) will overtake cards by 2017.

However the rate of change varies significantly around the globe, and this applies to mobile payments too. Mobile payment methods are most popular in the developing world, particularly Africa, due to factors such as a great number of ‘unbanked’ consumers and a slow uptake of fixed line internet services, meaning many people’s first experience of the internet will have been delivered via mobile. In Africa, mobile payments are biased towards person-to-person payments, rather than B2C, driven through wallets such as MPesa and Paga.

In much of the developed world, consumers have become familiar with making payments through their mobile browser, with some businesses seeing as much as 50% of their traffic coming from smartphones and tablets. However, the use of mobile specific payment types appears to have been slower to adopt – the Worldpay report found that mobile made up just 0.7% of payments in the UK in 2012.

But while mobile payments are becoming more familiar, some barriers remain. Security concerns around mobile payments are high, although the perception is often worse than the reality. One of the biggest risks is malware, which can affect open-source platforms. Consumers can minimise this risk by only using official apps stores and implementing detection software.

Consumers, particularly the older generation, can also be cautious about adopting new practices in place of tried and tested payment mechanisms they are familiar with. They may feel there’s no compelling reason to adopt mobile payments as they often don’t offer a more convenient experience – in fact, in many cases the process can be longer.

To overcome this, you should ensure you’re doing everything you can make mobile payments as easy and convenient as possible for your customers by optimising your online mobile payment process.

Optimising online mobile payments

Transactions through mobile devices require a different user experience. We’ve pulled together some simple practical tips to optimise your online mobile payment process.

  • Ditch the desktop – desktop layouts aren’t suitable for mobile devices. Don’t make your customers “pinch and zoom”. Create mobile specific layouts or use responsive design to fit the page to the screen.
  • Keep text concise and readable. Use fonts large enough to be read without a magnifying glass and only provide the necessary information to complete the task in hand.
  • Ensure your site is touchscreen-friendly – get rid of hover-over functions designed for mice and take advantage of native actions like touches and swipes. Make buttons touchable and easy to press – design buttons for fat fingers, and keep touchable elements spaced apart to avoid incorrect selection. Also ensure you make it obvious that buttons are buttons – use colour and call-to-action text to lure the user.
  • Make data entry simple. Touchscreen data entry is difficult, so don’t make your customers type more than they need to – only capture the minimum of data required to complete a transaction. Also ensure that your forms use the relevant keyboard layout for the data required. Configure fields to use the right contextual keyboards – email layout for email addresses, numerical pad for card number etc.
  • Don’t make customers wait. Mobile shoppers are impatient – longer page-load times increase the chance of shopper abandonment. Reducing http requests and the size of the payload can drive up sales. One or more of the following techniques may help to achieve this.

o Use caching for images and scripts to save unnecessary server requests each time a page loads.

o Optimise images for mobile devices – high enough resolution so they are not blurry, but still small in file size.

o Merge together scripts (CSS and JavaScript) and run them through minification algorithms to reduce both the size and the number of requests.

  • Accelerate payments by creating one-click experiences for returning customers. Use tokenisation to store your customers’ card information so that their future transactions are friction-free.
  • Broaden shoppers’ options by offering alternative payments (APMs). These require less data entry than traditional card forms so can greatly enhance your customer’s journey.

Following the above guidelines will ensure an easier, smoother payment experience for your ecommerce customers. As always, an experienced payments provider can provide the right advice to make your payments strategy simple and effective. Once you’ve got this right, chances are you’re well on the way to success.

Kevin Dallas is chief product & marketing officer at Worldpay eCommerce.

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