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Sourced from white paper by Ryan Breslow, Bolt CEO & CoFounder
The Checkout Problem
Shopping carts are expected to do everything… but everything is a lot. What it takes to power a full ecommerce store is very complex.
Designed as website builders and inventory management systems, carts were relatively strong at top of funnel functionality (the “shopping experience”). The shopping experience is everything that happens before a shopper decides to buy. This includes powering the site’s catalogue, theme, navigation, discovery, and cart buildout. It’s branded, custom, and bespoke.
What carts were weakest at was the bottom of funnel functionality (the “checkout experience”). The checkout experience starts when a user decides what they want to buy and has an intent to purchase. It presents payment options to consumers, collects shopper’s personal information, processes payments, mitigates fraud and connects to dozens of backend systems that are required to power the transaction. For the checkout experience, arguably the most critical piece of ecommerce, reliability and ease-of-use are king. Checkout has to constantly be tested, updated, and be leveraging the latest and greatest connected tools.
As a merchant finds product-market fit and begins to scale to millions of GMV, they begin to take notice of the fact that shopping carts don’t have checkout in their DNA. With considerable volume occurring through the site and the marginal cost for each new shopper increasing, converting users on their site becomes paramount.
Losing a customer at the final step, checkout, is tragic because the marketing dollars have already been spent to get the customer to land on the site. The customer has become interested in a product, found it in stock and in the right size/color, and clicked checkout — which means there was strong intent to purchase.
Still, 70% of shoppers drop at this critical step. This is upwards of a $10T problem globally, and can be due to unexpected shipping costs, account creation requirements, payment security concerns, poor error handling, and long and confusing forms amongst many other issues. When you overlay the complexities of browsers and devices, mobile cart abandonment skyrockets to 85% compared to 70% on desktop. The checkout conversion problem amounts to nearly $1T in abandoned checkouts in the US alone every year, and upwards of $10T globally. This is the checkout conversion problem.
Building a strong checkout flow is a very difficult frontend technical challenge: it needs to be intuitive, performant, responsive to all browser sizes, and compatible with all device/browser/plugin combinations. However, this pales in comparison to the checkout integration problem. When a shopper goes through a checkout flow, the flow is communicating with dozens of independent tools including tax, shipping, coupons, discounts, gift certificates, loyalty, email newsletters, abandoned cart recovery, account authentication, payment processing, alternative payment methods, fraud, inventory management, order management… the list goes on. A checkout can sometimes connect with upwards of 40 unique tools! Each merchant has a unique stack of tools for each of these components, and they each have to interact sometimes synchronously and sometimes asynchronously with checkout.
As a merchant grows and adopts more enterprise tools, each becomes more costly to implement. Each tool also increases the fragility of the codebase which has to now support more and more dependencies. And thus, technologically, the organization continues to be perpetually behind where they’d like to be.
On top of all this, as a merchant tries making the checkout experience slimmer, they face a new problem: the fraud problem. Checkout is inherently intertwined with fraud. The less information collected on the user, the more vulnerable the merchant is to fraud. As transaction volume builds, the level of risk the company is willing to take becomes smaller and smaller. Bureaucracy doesn’t help.
Checkout is the central nervous system of your revenue engine firing off neurons in all directions, waiting for responses, while simultaneously needing to be a seamless experience. It is the most complex piece of software in commerce — and simply slimming it down is no longer an option.
Introducing Checkout Experience Platform
The Checkout Experience Platform is the missing link in the commerce ecosystem. Platform does everything to power the checkout experience so merchants can focus on the shopping experience. It’s not a replacement for the shopping cart platform, but rather a complement that integrates with the vast majority of the major platforms.
On the surface, it appears to be an optimized checkout frontend. However, on the backend lies a sophisticated platform embedded with hundreds of integrations and configurations. Beyond integration, the Checkout Experience Platform includes Convert (everything conversion), Approve (approval-first fraud engine), and Collect (collecting payments) — solving the checkout problems above from every angle.
Ultimately, the CEP’s goal is to help democratize commerce by making buying effortless, everywhere. CEP helps internal brands and merchants of all sizes sell more, grow faster, and be more competitive. And, the platform does so by solving their biggest three challenges:
When Checkout Experience Platform powers your checkout stack, and all of the integrations therein, merchants and platforms save considerable resources.
Highly optimized, always-improving frontend consistently outperforms a merchant’s existing checkout while also improving every day to widen that gap.
Although we think of conversion as just a checkout, a core principle from day 1 has been that checkout and fraud are better together: The Checkout Experience platform mitigates risk for retailers by using behavioral data collected throughout the checkout experience to inform CEP’s fraud decisioning. CEP collects 4x the real-time data signals, CEP uniquely understands the shopper so we can maximize order approval and conversion, and personalize outdated checkout forms that require unnecessary fields to validate a shopper. The result is a faster checkout and superior fraud detection than any native solution.
Moreover, leveraging Checkout Experience Platform brings some important fundamental advantages:
- Deep expertise: Checkout requires deep expertise and understanding of the interplay between risk, conversion, payments, and security. These are hard things that CEP focuses on day in and day out.
- Network-wide learnings: Oftentimes, even the largest of merchants don’t have enough checkouts per day to run effective A/B tests. CEP’s aggregated network of checkouts allows each merchant to benefit from network-wide learnings.
- Single click returning checkout: Users re-entering their information across multiple sites is redundant, inefficient, and serves no benefit to the individual merchants. CEP’s single click returning user experience is how independent retailers will beat the competition.
- Security & compliance: The security, data, and compliance stakes are higher at checkout than anywhere else in the commerce stack. CEP takes on this burden, which is a huge weight off a retailer’s back.
CEP’s goal is to help internal and external brands of all sizes sell more, grow faster, and compete.
For internal platform teams: every line of code CEP has written is a line of code you don’t have to. Bring a best in class checkout experience and checkout stack to your platform.
For B2B Partner brands/merchants: leveraging the The Checkout Experience Platform helps you convert more customers, retain them for longer, and remove the burden of maintaining your own checkout stack.