Improving the E Commerce Payment ProcessHow many times have you breezed through your online shopping only to be bogged down in the check out process? Akin to a great experience in your favorite restaurant that bottoms out when you are ready to leave and you can’t get your check or find your server, a poor payment process can deminish an otherwise exceptional online shopping experience and frustrate the user as well as potentially derail the purchase.

Apparently, improving the payment portion of the checkout process is a concern for many retailers. reports that 38% of retailers are looking to improve their online payment process in 2012. Does your payment process need spiffing up? If so, how can you improve the ecommerce payment process on your site?

Check out the following fixes:

Simplify. Simplify. Simplify. The easiest and most effective online payment process pages are simple to use, easy to understand and quick to complete. The fewer pages you require a customer to move through, the more likely they are to complete their checkout process.

Make it easier. In the same vein as making your payment process simpler to navigate, you should also focus on making the payment process easier for your shopper. It’s no secret that humans, as a species, tend toward the lazy side. It’s also no secret that long forms with lots of required data fields turn people off–especially when you already have the same information from a previous order or from an account registration. Consider giving your customers the option to auto populate their shipping address with the billing address or using information from a previous order.

Reconsider your required fields. Speaking of checkout forms, it’s time to reconsider the fields you require during checkout. Yes, you need basic information to conduct business. Yes, the checkout form can be used to acquire additional information about your customer, but do so with discretion and at your own risk. Today’s consumer is smarter than ever and no longer blindly fills out forms on the web. Requiring too much irrelevant information can result in your customer closing their browser rather than checking out.

Share shipping costs BEFORE checkout. There’s a unique phenomenon in ecommerce checkout that other forms of retail don’t readily experience. This is the act of a consumer adding an item to the cart, proceeding to checkout to get an estimate on the shipping costs, and then bailing out to check out the total price (purchase total plus shipping) on any number of other sites in an effort to find the best one. Exposing the shipping cost BEFORE checkout will limit or elimininate this problem.

Remove distractions. Once the customer reaches the payment process within your online checkout sequence, the time for reaching out to them with calls to action (e.g. “Learn about our customer loyalty program”) is over. Yes, over. Earlier in the checkout sequence–say during your cart review–you may wish to continue reaching out to customers with upsells and cross-sells. But when the customer clicks the “check out” button and gets out her credit card, presenting supplemental or informational offers may distract the shopper from the task at hand–buying your products–and could easily lead to an abandoned cart.

Include your contact info. I’ve said this before, but it can’t be said enough. There is nothing more frustrating than being halfway through the checkout process and running into a site error, shipping issue, or other question an not being able to find the company’s customer service number without exiting the cart first. Make sure that your customer service contact information is on EVERY PAGE of your site, including all of the pages of your checkout process.

Making the payment process quicker and easier for your customer will reap long-lasting dividends for your ecommerce site. Reviewing and revamping your process now ensures that you will have a successful ecommerce year.

To learn more about how to leverage the power of your ecommerce site, download the white paper, B2B Ecommerce Success – Seven Questions to Consider When Beginning an Ecommerce Initiative.