Inflation and rising interest rates are making consumers wary about spending, which means businesses have to work harder to convert interested shoppers into paying customers. Successful conversion depends on a fast and intuitive checkout experience—without friction that could cause customers to abandon their carts. This is especially true during a difficult economic period in which customers may be more hesitant to purchase in the first place.
Stripe partnered with Edgar, Dunn & Company to analyse the checkout flows of the top ecommerce and subscription businesses, and found a startling fact: 91% of European ecommerce sites had at least five basic errors in their checkout flows. These include not offering popular payment methods and not allowing customers to save their payment method details for future use. The net result is a lot of money left on the table.
The majority of businesses also neglected to integrate key revenue-generating opportunities into their checkout flows. For example, we found that 88% of European ecommerce sites didn’t offer recommended products at checkout, overlooking a proven way to increase average order size.
We’ve consolidated our findings to help businesses convert more customers and grow revenue by improving their checkout flows. This report highlights checkout best practices as well as businesses that have used Stripe to implement them.
This report contains four sections:
- Checkout conversion strategies
- Payment method preferences
- Mobile optimisation
- Subscription best practices
Checkout conversion strategies
The best checkouts optimise for speed, security, and convenience. The importance of a fast checkout can’t be overstated: 62% of customers give up on a purchase after 2 minutes, which is bad news in Europe where it takes on average 3.3 minutes to complete a checkout. This means businesses are losing more than half of all online customers who intend to make a purchase.
Security is another critical factor. The customers we surveyed said the top reason they would perceive a business negatively is if its website didn’t feel secure or trustworthy. Beyond offering a secure checkout flow, it’s important for businesses to display logos and credentials like “Verified by Visa” or “Mastercard SecureCode” to build consumer trust in their brands.
Finally, businesses can optimise their checkout flow by giving customers the option to save payment details for future use, surfacing recommended products through upselling and cross-selling, and reminding customers to complete their purchase if they abandon their cart.
The top checkout form errors and missed opportunities
Ninety-one percent of European websites made at least five basic errors in their checkout process. Here are some of the most common mistakes and missed opportunities:
- 63% didn’t display security logos on their checkout page, jeopardising customer trust.
- 64% didn’t allow customers to save payment methods for future purchases.
- 83% didn’t follow up with customers who had abandoned their cart.
- 88% didn’t recommend higher-end versions of a product or service through upselling.
- 51% didn’t recommend related products or services through cross-selling.
Many websites also had transactional errors related to card processing:
Checklist: How to optimise the checkout experience
Error messaging: Highlight payment information errors in real time, such as invalid card numbers, expired dates, or incorrect personal information.
Save payment information: Allow customers to store payment information so they can make future purchases with one click.
Upsell and cross-sell: Surface personalised and related product recommendations to increase average order value.
Follow up: Send an email to customers who abandoned carts, on either the same or following day.
Security visuals: Display trusted security logos and credentials to reinforce that the page is secure.
Payment method preferences
Payment method preferences are diverse and vary regionally. To expand global reach, businesses have to stay on top of how and when their customers prefer to pay. That could mean offering one-click checkout in some markets, local payment methods like iDEAL in others, or instalment plans in regions where buy now, pay later options are popular.
However, tailoring a payments experience isn’t just about increasing the number of payment options—businesses need to ensure that they’re surfacing the right ones, too. Ninety-five percent of customers said it was important for a website to provide the common payment methods in their country, and 86% said they would be very likely to abandon their cart if their preferred payment method wasn’t available.
Beyond local payment methods, businesses should also consider letting customers pay in instalments, especially if they have a high average order value. Buy now, pay later methods like Klarna and Affirm are increasingly popular: 68% of European customers said they would be more likely to complete a purchase if they were available. However, only 37% of European ecommerce sites offered them.
Checklist: How to offer customers their preferred payments experience
Language and currency: Identify the top countries in which you want to sell, and make sure you localise the checkout experience by translating the page and displaying local currency.
Local payment methods: Dynamically surface the right payment methods in your checkout depending on where your customers are located or which device they’re using.
Dynamic fields: Change the payment 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.
Instalments: Consider offering buy now, pay later services if they’re popular where your customers are based and you have a high average order value.
Roughly half of the customers we surveyed use smartphones more often than desktop devices to browse and shop for products online. Survey respondents are also shopping through social media, with 72% saying they use platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to make purchases.
Businesses need to improve their mobile checkout experience to accommodate these preferences. While 97% of businesses we surveyed adapted their checkout flow to a smaller screen, the majority did not support mobile wallets, a mobile-friendly payment method that allows customers to store payment information, such as debit or credit cards, on their phones.
More than three-quarters of customers (78%) are more likely to complete a purchase if a website offers one-click checkout options, such as Apple Pay or Google Pay. Saving a payment method can also provide customers with the option to use one-click checkout in the future. However, only 36% of the websites we analysed offered this feature.
One-click checkout preferences vary by country. More than 80% of customers in Poland, Sweden, Germany, and Spain said they would be more likely to complete a purchase if one-click checkout were offered. Even in the UK and France, where one-click checkout is less popular, a significant majority of customers (62% in France and 57% in the UK) reported that a one-click option would increase their likelihood of completing a purchase.
The top mobile optimisation errors
- 89% of checkouts did not support Apple Pay.
- 86% of checkouts did not support Google Pay.
- 24% failed to surface a numeric keypad to help with entering card information.
- 64% didn’t provide the ability to save payment information for future purchases via one-click checkout.
Checklist: How to optimise for mobile and unified commerce
Responsiveness: Optimise conversion on mobile devices with a fully responsive design to ensure your form automatically resizes based on device screen size.
Keypad: Display a numeric keypad when customers are prompted to enter their card information.
Wallets: Offer mobile wallet payment methods (e.g., Apple Pay and Google Pay).
One-click payment: Increase conversion and reduce checkout friction with one-click payment options.
Subscription best practices
Subscriptions can be an effective tool for creating high-value repeat customers, but any mistakes in the checkout process put recurring revenue at risk.
We found that 75% of European customers have had a negative experience with subscriptions, and 21% of the top 217 global subscription sites had at least three basic errors in their transaction process, including not confirming card type (35%) and not automatically verifying card number (30%). This is an improvement over last year, when 41% of subscription businesses were making these types of errors.
With checkout flows improving, subscription businesses need to provide a thoroughly seamless customer experience in order to gain a competitive edge. Businesses need to pay attention to the factors that could deter new subscribers or cause existing ones to cancel when they update their payment details.
Top opportunities to improve the subscription experience
- 57% of subscription sites did not offer a free trial, which would allow users to try before they buy.
- 51% of subscription sites did not provide fields for coupon or promo codes.
- 58% of subscription sites did not facilitate account creation through integration with a social media profile (e.g., Facebook or Google).
- 39% of subscription sites required customers to manually enter their address instead of offering autofill capabilities.
- 25% of customers said they are deterred from subscribing if they can’t modify or cancel their subscriptions online.
Checklist: Best practices for subscription businesses
Discounts and free trials: Bring in new customers by allowing them to sample your product or service for a period of time at no cost.
Reusable payment methods: Allow customers to utilise reusable payment methods, such as wallets and bank debit payments, so they only have to provide their payment information once.
Self-service: Enable your customers to easily manage their subscriptions online without needing to speak to a support agent or go through too many steps.
Social media: Streamline the sign-in experience by allowing customers to create an account or log in via a social media profile.
Address auto-complete: Make it easier for customers to enter their billing or shipping address with address auto-complete.
How Stripe can help
In order to successfully navigate the uncertain economic conditions ahead, businesses need to ensure they’re offering every customer the smoothest possible path to purchase. That means a frictionless checkout experience that surfaces recommended products so customers don’t have to hunt for what they need.
Fortunately, you don’t have to spend time and engineering resources building your own solutions. With Stripe, you can increase conversion globally and provide a best-in-class customer experience—all by integrating with our unified platform. With our suite of products, you can:
Offer a seamless checkout experience
- Use our prebuilt, hosted payments page with Stripe Checkout to launch a conversion-optimised experience with minimal development time.
- Use our embeddable UI component with Payment Element to design a secure, conversion-optimised payments experience that perfectly matches your site and dynamically surfaces the most relevant 25+ payment methods.
- Create a full payment page with Payment Links, and share the link without writing any code.
- Let customers save payment details and check out faster with one-click checkout with Link.
Build for global expansion and localised experiences
- Accept payments from customers around the world with cardholder support in more than 195 countries.
- Dynamically display relevant payment methods based on IP address, browser locale, cookies, and other signals.
- Add and scale payment method support—including wallets and buy now, pay later methods—without filling out multiple forms or following one-off onboarding processes.
Optimise for mobile and unified commerce
- Use fully responsive checkout forms that work across any device.
- Get built-in Apple Pay and Google Pay without any additional registration or domain validation required.
- Provide a seamless experience across online and offline channels (e.g., reserving online and picking up in store).
Launch subscriptions quickly and turn one-time purchases into recurring revenue
- Collect recurring payments via card, ACH, and other popular payment methods instantly.
- Experiment with pricing by using flexible billing logic for everything from per-seat pricing to metered billing, out of the box.
- Allow customers to self-serve with a portal to easily upgrade, downgrade, pause, or resume subscriptions.
- Reduce churn with Smart Retries, automated failed payment emails, and an automatic Card account updater.
Get in touch with a Stripe expert today to learn how you can optimise your checkout flow and scale your business.
Stripe partnered with Edgar, Dunn & Company to analyse the top 100 ecommerce websites in each of eight countries—France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the UK—based on online sales volume from Statista. Where the number of websites was not sufficient, we augmented the sample with the top websites by online traffic according to Similarweb.
We tested each website for errors by placing a product in the shopping cart to simulate an online purchase and, in some cases, using a VPN to complete the checkout process to mimic customers based in different countries. We analysed checkout flows against a list of 26 criteria related to checkout form design, mobile optimisation, localisation, and buyer trust and security.
We also analysed the top 217 global B2C subscription websites that offer digital content and physical goods, based on website traffic from Crunchbase. The sample included the following categories of subscription websites: media and streaming, file sharing, fitness apps, food delivery, e-learning, and news. We excluded B2B subscription websites where pricing is often tailored to individual clients, adult entertainment platforms, and online gambling websites.
Lastly, we surveyed 870 consumers in Europe across eight markets to uncover insights around current shopping behaviours and trends, payment preferences, and factors that affect the checkout experience.