If you are running a successful business, chances are you have put a great deal of work into the quality of the goods and services you provide. One area that you likely have not thought about, and where you may be at risk for lost sales, is your online checkout and payment system.

Recent studies indicate that businesses lose a significant number of online customers during the checkout process. It doesn’t have to be that way, however. Here are four ways that you can improve your online payment system, and eliminate those lost sales.

Expand Payment Options

PayPal is great, but not everyone has it. If you are a small online business relying exclusively on a PayPal button you pasted onto your website, you are likely going to lose a significant number of customers who can’t or won’t use PayPal. Add additional payment options for your customers, such as major credit cards, or even gift cards and coupons. These days, it is easier than ever to establish a credit card payment system for small online stores. The more options customers have to choose from when it comes to payment, the better chance you have of making the sale.

Go Mobile

People are using their mobile devices – smartphones and tablets – for everything these days, including shopping. Is your online store mobile device friendly? According to a recent study, over half of consumers report that online store services are inferior on their mobile devices, and 26 percent of respondents report challenges with checkout. If your website isn’t mobile friendly, chances are you are losing prospective customers and revenue because of it. Work with a software expert to configure your site to support mobile devices; ideally, a software developer should develop a mobile app to support users on tablets and smartphones. This includes making certain that the checkout process on smartphones is smooth as well. The easier it is for mobile users to navigate your website, the better chance you will have of making more sales.

Ditch Memberships

There is another thing that all online customers hate: memberships. When you’re trying to buy an item you’ve been searching for online, the last thing you want to do is have to fill out a mandatory form for an account, memorize yet another username and password, and then sign in to get back to check out again. Forced registration and account signup is one of the top reasons people abandon online shopping carts. Consider foregoing the account registration process with your customers, and allow them to execute simple point and click purchases and checkouts. As a minimum, you should allow customers to check in as guests, and forego all of the mandatory fields to create a full account.  Streamlining the online shopping process will make your customers more satisfied, and lead to more sales.

Secure Everything

While mandatory logins and accounts are a leading cause of online shopping cart abandonment, customers’ concerns about security are equally responsible for failed purchases. There are numerous free and pay tools that your business can use to ensure that its website and servers are secure; take advantage of them regularly. Beyond merely securing your website, however, you also must do everything that is possible to assure your customers that you take their security and privacy seriously. Ensure that you highlight security features you have implemented, such as your SSL certificate, as well as your privacy policy. Look at other mainstream online websites, and ensure that the security features detailed prominently on your checkout pages are similar to theirs. Finally, ensure that your website design flows seamlessly from your online store to the checkout page; if the interface is clunky, and customers feel they have left your site and gone to one that is less developed, chances are they will question the site’s security and abandon the purchase. Integrated website design can prevent this from happening.


William Lipovsky owns the personal finance website First Quarter Finance. His most embarrassing moment was telling a Microsoft executive, "I'll just Google it."

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