People are 100 times more impatient online than they are in physical reality."

In the same time it takes you to read this sentence (roughly three seconds), most people will abandon a website that’s taking too long to load. In contrast, most people believe five minutes is an acceptable amount of time to wait for service in an actual retail store.

If we were to extrapolate on the numbers above, it appears people are 100 times more impatient online than they are in physical reality. While it’s foolhardy to equate real-life situations to those in the online world, there are clear implications for any business with even a semblance of an online presence. (For those without an online presence, well that’s an article you probably should have read 20 years ago.)

As tempting as it is to engage in social commentary on the new generation of instant gratification, the fact remains that your online customers will drop you like a hot rock if you make them wait or do too much work. It’s nothing personal as most of the time they’ve ditched you so quickly it was barely a conscious decision.

So how do you keep your customers engaged throughout their entire buying journey with your business, from the first click or swipe to that all-important payment confirmation? The answer lies in two letters that your business can ill afford to ignore – UX, or user experience. Braintree, a PayPal service that specialises in providing merchants with the latest technology for seamlessly accepting online payments, were able to provide some much needed advice on why UX is so vital to that final payment decision.

Page loading … please wait

Braintree

The halcyon days of the internet in the mid-1990s was a place of unbridled enthusiasm and saint-like patience. We all marvelled at the possibilities as we sat and waited, calm as a Hindu cow, for a page of text and low-res images about Beverly Hills 90210 to slowly fill the screen. It was against this backdrop that the first online shopping transaction took place on August 11, 1994.

What did they buy, you ask? A CD – remember those? Not even a good one either, it was a copy of Ten Summoner’s Tales by Sting and it sold for $US12.48. What was significant about this purchase wasn’t the atrocious musical taste of the buyer, however. It was the fact he was able to buy a product online while keeping his credit card details secure. This was the achievement that first unlocked today’s vast world of online commerce.

These days we can barely wait a few moments before we abandon all hope of a page ever loading. So how do you design a buying experience for customers with zero patience and infinite sites to buy from? The big mistake many businesses are making is trying to shoehorn their desktop or laptop buying experience onto a mobile phone. That’s according to Tyson Hackwood, Asia-Pacific head of Braintree, the next- generation online payment system provider behind many of the businesses we buy from every day such as Uber, The Iconic and OzSale.

“As payments experts, we spend our entire lives focused on conversion, and advising on these user experience issues is a big part of how we serve our merchants in improving their bottom line,” Hackwood says.

“The merchants that don’t try to recreate their desktop experience across mobile web and mobile apps are the ones that we see experiencing growth. Understanding the device your customer is using and designing an experience to suit is crucial as there’s even a difference between mobile phones and tablets.”

71 per cent of us are now making payments on our mobile phone."

Mobile myopia

Braintree

It appears many businesses aren’t getting the message on mobile shopping, however. Research from PayPal reveals that while 71 per cent of us are now making payments on our mobile phone, only 49 per cent of online businesses in Australia are optimised to accept mobile payments. The missed opportunity here is significant when the same research reveals that each of us spends an average of $330 every month using our mobile phone.

Another cardinal sin according to Hackwood is ignoring the plumbing and going cheap on hosting for your online presence. “Page loading times is a really simple one, if it takes too long, people are gone. You need to make sure you’re paying for bandwidth, whether that’s across multiple instances on multiple servers or a cloud service, either way it has to be fast.”

With mobile data speeds threatening to be as fast as the NBN in the next year or two, customers know they can expect instant access to rich digital content in the palm of their hand, meaning they’re about to become infinitely less forgiving of the online businesses they buy from, Hackwood says.

“In mobile, you don’t have the luxury of people’s patience as if something is taking too long to load, they’ve already hit back and they’re off to use the next provider. Treat your customers with respect as you’re using their time, their data and their money to access your products so you need to give it to them quickly, in a very easy format.”

Even Facebook has announced they will be limiting the exposure of advertisers with slow-loading mobile websites. Charitably, they have offered some advice to advertisers on the importance of improving their mobile experience, saying “the poor performance of marketers' mobile websites, including slow page load times, continues to be an issue and is conditioning people to navigate away before they ever see the content or products they want”.

Checkout check-up

Braintree

As was the case with the sale of Sting’s CD in 1994, another chief concern of customers when they’re shopping online is still security. Hackwood says many businesses are still offering a poor experience to customers when they’re making that all-important final purchasing decision. Part of this he says, is building in a user-friendly tokenisation system, where sensitive data such as multiple credit cards and multiple addresses are securely stored, allowing the customer to easily choose between each upon checkout.

“Multiple funding options is important as you may use the same site or app for two different purposes, for instance buying products for yourself personally or for your business so you don’t want to have to use two different profiles. Customers should just be able to change their payment options quickly during checkout.”

Each of us spends an average of $330 every month using our mobile phone."

An experience many of us know and dread is the moment you decide to buy a product or service and to process your payment, you’re whisked away to another site that seems to bear little to no resemblance to the business you’re actually purchasing from. Hmm, seems legit? Not really, and Hackwood says there isn’t any excuse for this kind of payment system any more.

“PayPal is the only place where people recognise that as being a secure system hosted offsite. If you’re taking people though to a different page where the branding is different or it doesn’t look at all like the same business, that’s really poor user experience as people are worried about their online security, and rightfully so. That’s why at Braintree, we host all of that payment system inside your web experience so it doesn’t look to your customers like they’re leaving the site or app.”

While much of the focus on payment UX is on securely receiving payments from customers, Hackwood says there are still avoidable issues around a customer’s ability to receive a refund from a retailer’s physical store.

“Smarter retailers are pushing the ability to either collect or return a product in-store as it offers the opportunity to upsell or cross-sell to a customer, as well as the opportunity to exchange the product. That’s been a huge challenge in the past for retailers as they’ve treated their online store as almost a separate business, but with the payment technology that Braintree provides, they’re able to tokenise those in-store refunds as well.”

Simplicity, speed and security are the major keys to providing your customers with the slick shopping experiences they now expect every day. Some elements of the experience will always require ongoing minor tweaks while others may require an immediate and complete redesign. What’s clear is that businesses that are serious about staying relevant in today’s digital world are the same businesses who pay close attention to every microsecond of their customer’s online buying journey.

Braintree

Are your payments helping you reach new customers? Optimising your conversion at checkout? Keeping you safe? And ready for what ever’s next? Braintree does. Rethink Payments.

A catalyst for next generation commerce, Braintree’s global platform powers payments for thousands of e-commerce innovators like Airbnb, Uber, Eventbrite and Pinterest. Merchants in more than 45 countries across the world accept payments via their app or website, in more than 130 currencies, reaching more than 200 million PayPal users, with a single integration.

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