Buy Now! Converting Shoppers to Buyers and Buyers into Sales
By Tom Goldsmith
Nearly every online merchant has experienced the frustration of seeing how little Web site traffic actually translates into sales. The trick, of course, is to convert the curious browser into a shopper, the shopper into a buyer and a buyer into a completed sale.
Merchants spend a tremendous amount of energy and resources to the art of transforming browsers into shoppers and then into buyers. There are many ways to do that, and they’re typically familiar and well-tested. Friendly site navigation, sparkling marketing copy and great customer service will take a merchant so far, but getting a buyer to complete a sale requires an entirely different strategy.
Ralph Dangelmaier, CEO of Waltham, Mass.-based BlueSnap, which bills itself as “a smarter payment gateway,” says that while the statistics on buyer conversion aren’t very good, in part because it’s difficult to separate true buyers from window shoppers, the challenge is real. And, he views his company’s mission to help merchants tackle it.
“Our promise – like the Boy Scout promise – is that we will help [merchants] convert more shoppers into buyers. It’s our Pledge of Allegiance,” Dangelmaier says.
For BlueSnap, the conversion strategy behind that promise is about knocking down barriers to buying and it has four key targets:
First, make it easier and more convenient for customers to make a purchase. An easy to use shopping cart is essential, but so is facilitating a spontaneous purchase. A “buy it now” button, along with a streamlined checkout process for those who use it, will have a significant effect on sales.
Second, make it easy to buy using a phone or other mobile device. Entering payment information on a mobile device can be difficult and frustrating for the buyer, and cost sales.
Third, synchronize Web site and mobile experiences. If a customer has payment information on file at a Web site, she shouldn’t have to reenter that data when buying from a phone or tablet. “If I have entered all my information on an airline’s Web site, I should be able to use my phone to buy a ticket without entering all that information again,” Dangelmaier argues.
Fourth, make life easier for international buyers by offering a checkout process in their language, using their currency and offering the payment options that prevail in their home country. “Imagine entering payment information at a Web site in perhaps your second or third language,” Dangelmaier points out.
BlueSnap tries to tackle all of those obstacles along with providing merchants with a reliable and secure payment gateway, Dangelmaier says. His company makes it easy to install “buy now” options, uses cloud infrastructure to facilitate synchronized mobile and Web shopping and supports 110 payment types in 60 currencies and dozens of languages.
The BlueSnap multipayment, multicurrency support has been critical for customers like Lior Libman, co-founder and COO of OneHourTranslation.com, which is based in Israel. The company offers fast, accurate translation services in 73 languages and 2,500 language pairs online, but until three years ago, didn’t accept credit cards.
“Multicurrency support was very important to us,” says Libman, “along with fraud prevention and ease of implementation. And BlueSnap gave us that.”
Libman said the wide array of payment types OneHourTranslation.com can now offer has also improved the company’s conversion rate, as well. For example, buyers from some European countries are highly unlikely to use credit cards for online purchases, preferring direct debit, instead. The ability to adapt to buyer’s preferences, he says, “has made a huge difference.”
Dangelmaier says it’s critical for online merchants to improve their ability to convert shoppers to buyers in part because the growth of card-not-present commerce is just beginning.
“Most people are shocked when they find out that only about six percent of retail buying is done online (and only six percent of that is mobile),” he says. “In five to 10 years, card-not-present sales could be half of all retail sales.”
The implication, of course, is that merchants who make online or mobile purchasing difficult are likely to fall by the wayside.