Security vs. convenience in the payment experience

What matters most to online shoppers?

Accepting payments online has become a fact of life for many businesses. Visitors to many kinds of websites now often expect to be able to purchase goods and services direct from the web – and businesses must meet that need to retain their custom.

Engaging with ecommerce makes demands upon a business. The requirements of web design shift and change in this context, and new functionality has to be built in. Product descriptions and other content has to be written and produced. This takes a lot of thought.

And it’s important to get commerce right, because in accepting payments businesses are handling their customers’ most sensitive information: bank card details, contact information, birth dates. There are data regulations to adhere to, and specific levels of security that must be achieved.

There are a range of tools online to help businesses do this: WooCommerce for WordPress, PayPal for business, the excellent GoCardless. All can help tick the right security boxes so that you’re handling data responsibly.

As GoCardless themselves have recently noted in a report entitled Security vs Convenience, however, there’s something else to consider: customers’ tolerance levels.

The problem with security is that it can be onerous: all those boxes to tick and passwords to remember. While a business tries to help a client by reducing fraud and identity theft, it is also hindering them by inserting obstacles in the process of purchasing the thing they want. That’s a dilemma.

So what can businesses – and designers – do to help square the circle? The good news is that there are plenty of ways to provide payment gateways that are secure and easy to use – you just need to know the tricks of the trade.

That GoCardless report is a good place to start. It notes that online shoppers are torn between security and convenience – essentially, they want both. They will abandon a purchase if completion proves to difficult. But they don’t like the idea of providing biometric information, either – seen by many security experts as a silver bullet, shoppers are distrustful of it.

The report was commissioned as a response to the imminent introduction of Strong Customer Authentication, on 14 September 2019. This will place further requirements on businesses, and compliance will add extra potential pain to any purchase process. Staying aware of customers’ preference for convenience is in this context critical.

None of this makes a designer’s life easy, of course – but it does emphasise the importance of getting online payments right. Achieving the perfect balance between security and convenience is critical to winning the trust and custom of online shoppers – getting it right requires talking to an expert.