UK’s Most Popular Online Shops Missing Out on Customers

A detailed review of the top 450 e-commerce websites in the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and Sweden has uncovered widespread checkout errors, causing would be customers unnecessary frustration, and costing businesses significant lost revenue. With more and more retail moving online for the first time, online commerce now represents 30% of all retail sales in the UK. Yet even some of the world’s leading e-commerce sites continue to put needless roadblocks in the way of British and European consumers.

Research from Stripe, which builds economic infrastructure for the internet, found that some of the most common errors include:

  • Allowing shoppers to submit transactions with incorrect card details
  • Failing to warn shoppers when out of date expiry information is entered
  • Not providing a numerical keypad for entering card numbers on mobile

With 70% of all online shopping carts being abandoned, fixing basic checkout page errors and removing unnecessary friction in the transaction process can yield big upticks in sales. Businesses are making it unnecessarily hard for would-be customers across Europe to buy from their sites, with two-thirds of sites not translating their pages into local languages and just 12% supporting mainstream local payments methods.

Iain McDougall, UK& Ireland Country Manager at Stripe said:

“These easy-to-fix checkout errors could be costing businesses important revenue. Now is not the time to be leaving money on the table. Businesses invest heavily in getting customers through the virtual door of their online shop, so to then throw the sale away because your checkout page isn’t up to scratch makes no sense, and yet it happens all the time.

“On their own, mistakes like not offering a numerical keypad for customers entering card numbers on mobile might seem small, but when combined together, the slew of errors we found across the country’s top sites add up to a needlessly difficult checkout experience for shoppers, and a significant number of lost sales.”

“A high quality checkout can be a significant competitive advantage, that’s why some of the most sophisticated merchants in the world have entire teams dedicated to optimising online sales conversion. Stripe Checkout is levelling the playing field by offering a state of the art checkout experience, adapted for 15 languages and offering 11 payment methods, right out of the box. If you’re a seasoned online business, or selling online for the very first time, you can offer your customers the kind of checkout experience internet giants have spent years optimising with just a simple plug and play integration.”

European trade held back by language barrier and preventing local shoppers from using their preferred methods of payment

At a time when increasing your addressable market is crucial to maximising sales, many of the top ecommerce sites are not doing a good job of providing a simple checkout for users in other European countries:

  • 66% of the top 50 checkouts in the UK do not translate into local languages when prompted by local shoppers
  • Only 12% of UK sites offer popular local payment methods for buys in markets such as Poland, Belgium and Austria

Offering local payment methods can drive meaningful conversion uplifts for sales into a given market, especially when selling across Europe, which carries lots of market-specific payments methods, which are often more popular than paying with card brands. In the Netherlands for example, the majority (57%) of online transactions take place via iDEAL, but very few international companies enable their Dutch customers to pay this way.

Stripe Checkout is a drop-in payments flow designed to drive conversion and now includes local payment methods like P24 for Polish shoppers, Bancontact for Belgian shoppers, iDeal for Dutch shoppers, Giropay for German shoppers and EPS for Austrian shoppers.

Not Optimised for Mobile

With mobile sales now accounting for over two-thirds of global e-commerce, building a successful checkout for the small screen is crucial, but the many of the sites reviewed by Stripe offered poor mobile experiences.

82% of websites in the UK did not offer any digital wallet payments like Apple Pay and Google Pay. In better news, nearly every website reviewed did resize their checkout page to fit the mobile screen. Digital wallets like Apple Pay or Google Pay allow for a convenient one-click payment experience on mobile, and continue to grow in popularity. When it comes to adopting mobile wallets, businesses are lagging behind the consumers they serve, with only 18% of checkouts offering Google and Apple Pay, compared to the 26% of European customers paying through Stripe Checkout that have set up either Apple Pay or Google Pay on their device or browser.

Friction ridden checkouts

With nine out of ten lost sales in Europe failing on the checkout page, fixing these basic errors and reducing friction in the transaction process can result in significant increases in conversion and revenue, especially as more commerce moves online.

  • 42% of UK checkouts did not explain what a CVC code was when asking for it
  • 66% of checkouts do not translate into local languages
  • 48% did not confirm card type when a card number is entered
  • 42% did not explain what a CVC was when asking for it
  • 42% forced users into a drop-down menu to enter expiration date
  • 36% did not enable card numbers to be entered with spaces
  • 32% did not verify the card number automatically as it was entered
  • 30% let you submit the payment request with an expired card date entered (rather than flagging the expired date before you hit submit)

How to Optimise for Mobile

  • Ensure your form automatically resizes to the smaller screen
  • Display a numerical keypad when customers are prompted to enter their card information
  • Offer mobile wallet payment methods, like Apple Pay or Google Pay, and ideally only surface them if you know they have been set up by your customer and are usable on their current device

How to Localise Your Checkout Experience

  • Identify the top countries into which you want to sell and make sure you localise the checkout experience by translating the page
  • Change the fields to capture the right information for each country. For example, if your form recognises a UK card, you should dynamically add a field for postcode. On the other hand, if your form recognises an American card, you should change that field to ZIP code
  • Dynamically surface the right payment methods in your checkout depending on where your customers are located

How to Design the Best Performing Checkout Forms

  • Highlight payment information errors in real time, before customers click “checkout” or “pay.” UI patterns like a red exclamation point or a green checkmark can quickly communicate this at a glance
  • When there is a mistake in the form, use descriptive and specific error messaging. Clearly identify what the error is, whether it’s an invalid card number or an expiration date in the past
  • Make sure your checkout form can accept and auto-fill information saved in a customer’s browser rather than asking them to re-enter their details
  • Automatically display an icon for the card brand (like Visa or Mastercard) after the card number is entered