Lack of payment choice holding back online sales, says analyst

Retailers are limiting their online sales potential by up to 30 per cent by not offering a range of payment options, new data has shown.

According to a study by e-commerce and digital agency Visualsoft, almost one-in-five (19 per cent) of the UK’s top 240 retailers are failing to offer a payment choice aside from a mainstream credit or debit card.

This is despite research from ACI Worldwide, a payment systems company, which found that offering at least the top three payment options could increase conversion by up to 30 per cent.

Also allowing non-bank card payments, such as vouchers and mobile payments, can also increase a site’s appeal, as it gives consumers confidence that they are using payment methods that they are comfortable with and can increase the speed of their purchase.

PayPal was found to be the most popular alternative payment option, with 71 per cent of retailers offering this alongside a credit and debit card.

Visualsoft data also found that retailers that do offer PayPal see around 25 per cent of customers using this option.

Vouchers are less widely used, with only eight per cent currently allowing customers to use gift card or other common voucher types to pay.

Retailers are also limiting any chances of international growth, with 38 per cent currently not offering an option to pay with foreign currencies. Lack of local payment options for international customers can lose sites up to 13 per cent of customers.

Tim Johnson, chief sales officer at Visualsoft, said: “It’s the final – and potentially most critical – stage in the purchasing cycle, so it’s surprising that so many of the UK’s biggest retail players are limiting their conversion potential by overlooking the importance of payment options.

“Many shoppers may face disappointment when they are only able to use their credit in bricks-and-mortars stores. When considering the example of this Christmas period, which saw online sales grow 18 per cent on 2016, the inability to use gift cards online seems oddly out-of-step with the current consumer trend for avoiding the high street and shopping from home.

“Perhaps more worrying still is that retailers are shying away from the potential of international sales. Outside of the UK, customers are already well adjusted to using alternate payment types – such as in Holland, where payment solution, Ideal, processes around 55 per cent of transactions. This could prove crucial in a post-Brexit era, when providing US shoppers with their most popular payment options and charging in dollars could pay dividends.”