Black Friday shopping

Consumers aren’t going easy on retailers. In efforts to grasp the latest shifts in preferences and expectations, Nielsen partnered with Stripe, an online payment platform to collect covetable consumer data. For example, the research discovered that 51 percent of consumers will abandon a web site if it takes too long — typically three seconds or longer.

What’s more, it confirmed that e-commerce marketplaces aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon. Sixty-eight percent of Millennials confirmed they had shopped on an online marketplace in the past year. But retailers and brands have a huge opportunity to maximize on this preference, especially on mobile — according to the research, only 29 percent of participants have used their mobile device to shop e-commerce marketplaces, compared to 53 percent sharing they had used their smartphone or alternative device to make restaurant reservations.

Here, Richard Alfonsi, head of global revenue and growth at Stripe discusses the landscape further and how retailers can gleam best practices from hospitality and other industries.

WWD: What are key features that will help capture and maintain shoppers on a retailer/brand’s e-commerce site?

Richard Alfonsi: According to a recent study, more than half of mobile site visitors will leave a page if it takes longer than three seconds to load. When you go from browsing to shopping, it gets worse. Even if the checkout page loads quickly, a recent study found that more than half of shoppers will abandon a site if entering their payment information takes too long.

Just by implementing the very latest in payment methods and consumer wallets (Google Pay, etc.), auto-filling credit card information, and adding a numerical keypad for mobile — these steps can have a huge impact. In fact, crowd-funding platform Indiegogo, improved conversion rates 2.5x after adding Apple Pay. Merchtable, a fulfillment center and online storefront provider for touring artists, saw a 190 percent checkout improvement rate after implementing Elements, a pre-built checkout tool from Stripe.

It ultimately comes down to reducing friction. As brands face an increasingly noisy digital landscape, they’ll need to ensure they’re creating the most seamless experience possible — and even more so when it comes to their payments flows.

WWD: The subscription service market is increasingly saturated — how can companies stand out?

R.A.: The subscriptions market is booming, growing by more than 100 percent annually over the last five years. Shoppers are increasingly inclined to buy everyday items — from meal kits to beauty supplies to books — via subscription service. In fact, we found that 32 percent of consumers would prefer to sign up for a subscription than make a one-off purchase.

To stand out, retailers should consider providing unique user experiences. For example, customers should be able to easily adjust the frequency of their subscription to fit their lifestyles and trust that billing frequency and amount for this service will be reflected. Cratejoy, a marketplace for subscription boxes in dozens of categories, lets its 3,000 box curators offer their customers more than 90 different kinds of subscriptions options.

WWD: Mobile restaurant booking usage is substantially higher than e-commerce mobile shopping. What lessons can retailers/brands glean from restaurant apps?

R.A.: When compared to the often-complicated checkout process in typical e-commerce marketplaces — especially on mobile — making a reservation on a restaurant app is really easy. We conducted a study of Alexa’s top 100 e-commerce sites and found that 72 of them had three or more “errors” in their checkout flows, such as not having auto-fill correctly set up or not providing a numerical keypad for entering credit card numbers.

Compare that to making a reservation on OpenTable. Generally, all users need to do is sign into their accounts; choose their restaurant and reservation time; and provide their contact information. When the restaurant requires a credit card, apps like OpenTable have them automatically saved from the users’ last visit, making this extra step as frictionless as possible. The lesson here is that the more information e-commerce marketplaces can auto-fill for the shopper, the more likely consumers will complete their shopping via mobile devices.

WWD: What facets should brands/retailers be considering to incorporate into mobile experiences to enhance convenience given Millennials’ preference for information storage?

R.A.: The fastest, most popular payment options today also tend to be the most secure. When retailers implement Apple Pay support, they take advantage of Apple’s built-in security features. Those benefits compound if checkout is built on top of a third-party solution that takes on the burden of storing customer information, so the data never touches a brands’ own servers.

WWD: How do you predict that omnichannel will evolve in the next 12-24 months?

R.A.: While there’s so much hype around online sales destroying brick-and-mortar, we’re noticing an interesting trend in digital-first brands like Everlane,

Glossier, and Rothy’s creating unique in-person storefronts after building an online following. Warby Parker, for example, was once an online-only brand and has now expanded to more than 64 stores across the United States.

At the same time, we’re also seeing traditional retailers implement unique digital experiences in-store. Just last week Stance, maker of colorful, trendy socks, introduced a new cashierless checkout in all its stores. All customers need to do is visit Stance in their mobile browsers to make a purchase.

We expect both of these trends — and all kinds of blends of digital convenience with in-person service — to continue in the coming months and years.

More from WWD:

Debunking Retail’s Silver Bullets

Generation Z: Bricks-and-Mortar’s Saving Grace?

When Will Retailers Succeed in Omnichannel Experiences?

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