How reducing friction at checkout boosts conversions

How can you tell if a checkout experience is optimized for maximum success? Many companies spend a lot of time optimizing the content pages of their websites, only to offer a sub par experience at checkout. Read on and find what your clients can do to improve their conversion rates.

“I wanted to spend my money, but I couldn’t pay.”

Whether a company is operating a webshop, a SaaS platform or a utility company, one of the most crucial parts in the buyer’s journey is the checkout experience. Sadly, 58% of European checkouts contain multiple errors. The result? Missed conversions and the painful consequences thereof, such as one less customer, one less potential evangelist and lost customer lifetime value. 

Research shows that most friction at checkout is, in fact, easily avoided by using a proper payment gateway. The leading errors preventing customers from finalizing a payment are, for example, not confirming the card type, not automatically verifying the card number and allowing consumers to attempt to confirm a payment with an expired card. 

However, even if businesses are using a legitimate, enterprise-level payment gateway and have covered all these bases, there are quite a few additional factors that can have a serious impact on their conversion rates. 

Here are a few recommendations to make sure your clients don’t miss out on revenue at checkout. 

#1 Preferred (local/regional) payment methods 

A business may be a multinational, but their customers most definitely are not. When making payments online, customers look for the payment methods that are common in their geographical area. Businesses shouldn’t assume a popular, global payment method like PayPal will simply ‘cover all bases’. For example, Dutch shoppers will prefer to pay with iDEAL, while Belgians will want to see BanContact and Germans will be looking for Sofort. 

#2 Preferred (local) currencies

Equally important as payment methods are the options for currencies. If companies are doing business in Europe, there are some countries that are within the European Economic Area, but outside the Eurozone. In practical terms, if a business is looking to pivot towards Scandinavian customers, then it’s important to note that Norwegians pay with the Krone. 

If businesses can’t revamp their websites to include foreign currencies in their website’s main UX/UI, they should at least show the local currency equivalent at checkout, so customers know exactly how much they’d be spending. This further inspires confidence and clears up any doubts that may arise at the very last minute. 

#3 Preferred (local) languages

Voulez-vous payer pour cela? There are 24 official languages within the EU. Let’s be honest; adding all the languages would make for quite a large dropdown menu. But, how about offering the website content in the top languages most relevant to the target market? A great European success story is Germany-based online musical equipment retailer Thomann. Its website is available in 14 languages! How is that for ‘think globally, act locally?’  

If your clients are not ready to go all the way like Thomann did, they could perhaps consider offering a selection of the top languages within the market. In Europe, for example, language proficiency breaks down as follows: English (44%), German (36%), French (29%), Italian (18%) and Spanish (17%). 


Besides adapting a localized approach, there are also more general guidelines one can follow to ensure conversion and maximize revenues: 

#4 Trust 

There’s no conversion, let alone customer loyalty, without first establishing trust. Local payment methods, local currencies and local languages go a long way to inspire that trust. But what else can businesses do?

It is important to inspire trust across the entire buyer’s journey. From the initial browsing experience to the checkout process and thereafter. Firms selling online should proactively tell their customers that the website and/or checkout process is secure. One way of achieving this is by using authoritative badges. Next, businesses need to make sure they’re using a secure payment gateway that respects and promotes their brand identity. Using the right layout and colours will put customers at ease and further increase the likelihood of conversion.

#5 Avoid self-sabotage with 3DS2

Behind the scenes, companies selling online should make sure they protect themselves against all types of fraud, including friendly fraud, but beware of self-sabotage. In particular, ‘industry-standard’ measures like 3DS2 can often do more harm than good. Using 3DS2 indiscriminately, for all types of payments, will in fact make it harder than necessary for customers to make the payment and many will leave the checkout process at the first sign of friction. 

Many businesses think 3DS2 is the only game in town, but it’s not. It is vital to use fraud protection tools that take into account the many exemptions outlined in the EU’s Payment Services Directive. One such service is Protectmaxx by Alphacomm.  

For a better understanding of the problems with 3DS2 and to find out whether some or all of your customer’s digital products and services qualify for exemptions, read our blog on this topic: Explained: 3D Secure 2 (3DS2)

#6 Optimize for mobile first

For an increasing number of consumers, mobile commerce is now the norm. Online retailers need to make sure that the layouts of their checkout pages are completely responsive to different screen sizes and equally compatible with all devices their customers may use when engaging with them. For instance, an oft-overlooked element of responsive design is the numerical keypad. It is important that a mobile layout triggers the numerical keypad when a customer is required to fill in their card number via mobile device. This makes it easier for them to avoid mistakes and reduces friction.  

#7 Keep it short and friendly 

The checkout page is not a marketing survey. This is not the time to ask irrelevant questions or force account creation. Not without at least offering a discount or major incentive. 

Also, merchants should review their communication style. If a payment fails at checkout, many customers are unlikely to try again. Especially if they have no idea what went wrong. Was it me? Or was it this dodgy website? It is therefore important to keep error reporting in easy-to-understand language, so customers feel more inclined to give it another go. 


I hope you enjoyed these tips. If you have any questions on how to proceed with improving checkout pages while improving customer loyalty, combating fraud and boosting profit all at once, feel free to reach out anytime.

Explained: 3D Secure 2 (3DS2)

The more you sell online, the more opportunities there are for fraudsters. Luckily, there are measures you can take to protect your customers and secure your revenue. One of these measures is 3DS2. Unfortunately, 3DS2 isn’t a one-stop-shop solution. While offering fraud protection, it also diminishes customer experience and curbs revenues.


First introduced in 2001 by EMV, 3D Secure, known by its acronym 3DS quickly became the standard anti-fraud measure in the industry. So how does 3DS work? Whenever customers initiate a purchase on the web, they are redirected to a secure page on their card provider’s website. Here, they are prompted to either enter a password or an authentication code that is sent to their mobile phone. Once the information is verified, the payment is approved and customers are redirected to the merchant’s website.

By adding a security layer to online transactions, 3D Secure made it a lot harder for fraudsters to steal, it lowered transaction costs, increased trust among online customers shifted liability away from merchants. And yet, it also had various drawbacks that only became worse in time.

For the average consumer, being redirected to a separate website and asked for a code turned out to be less straightforward than expected. This leads to abandoned carts and lost revenue. Moreover, when it was introduced in 2001, mobile commerce was non-existent.


The follow-up to the original 3D Secure brings much-needed improvements to security and user-friendliness. To grasp these changes, we need to understand what 3DS2 is meant to accomplish. The new standard, 3DS2, has been developed in line with the regulations outlined in the European Union’s Revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2).

PSD2 outlines the rules and regulations by which all players within the European payments industry must abide by in order to protect consumers, secure payments and foster healthy competition within the market.

One of the practical results of the Revised Payment Services Directive is the development of Secure Customer Authentication (SCA) as a European regulatory requirement. For transactions to comply with SCA, customers are required to identify themselves using multi-factor authentication. In other words, they must present two out of three of the following identifiers: Knowledge (Something they know, e.g. password/PIN), Possession (Something they own, e.g. mobile phone, token), Inherence (Something they are, e.g. biometrics, voice/facial recognition).

In other words:

3DS2, the new version of 3D Secure, is meant to be SCA compliant. Being SCA compliant has many benefits that go beyond fraud prevention. With 3DS2, issuing banks are provided with over 100 data points that help them identify users and authenticate payments.


Where 3DS2 falls short: adoption, compatibility & user experience

Even though 3DS2 provides many benefits, it’s not without problems. There are many credit cards, issued both within and outside the EU, that either do not have 3DS codes enabled or lack SCA compliance on mobile devices.

In many situations, 3DS2 is also an unnecessary burden on the consumer. Every consumer is required to undergo the exact same extra security checks, while every consumer and every purchase can be different.

Therefore, by protecting your revenue with these anti-fraud measures, you are also turning away potential customers in the worst way: by disappointing them at checkout.

As a merchant, you need to keep in mind that though the fraud(risk) is reduced, you’re also lowering conversion rates and limiting your overall revenue. In many cases, the loss of potential revenue is higher than the total cost of fraud and chargebacks combined.


Recommended reading
This article is an excerpt.
For a thorough review of 3DS2 and information on how to avoid the problems caused by 3DS2, check out the following resource: