Three easy places to start:
a) Simplify the UI - Make it as simple as possible for people to enter their payment details - large fonts, cross-browser tested, minimal pages, optimized for the lowest screen resolution of your average user on up.
b) Reiterate TRUST messaging - testimonials or buying popular symbols (Verign /McAfee / etc) and even dialing in the PLACEMENT of those logos is high-value eg http://www.conversionvoodoo.com/blog/2010/07/proper-placemen...
e) Implement a Cart Abandon strategy - either sending "instant discounts" via email good for 24hrs to complete order, calling dropped carts, or hitting a pop-up of live help or similar is easy money.
Add to this all the usual - proper messaging on buttons, lightning fast response times, mobile optimized version too, etc and you instantly gain a massive advantage over your competitors.
Some of the common tactics that have worked for our customers:
- Providing a summary of what they have ordered and making sure there are no hidden surprises (extra taxes or shipping charges)
- Adding trust indicators like Verisign seal (yes, they really work!)
- Not requiring them to create an account just to checkout
- Adding phone number and physical address that customers can reach out in case they need help
- Good looking design (people subconsciously associate good design with higher trust. If you have an odd color, or a grammatical mistake, or a dangling element, it tells how careless you are at designing the most critical page, so you would be careless with their money as well)
> e) Implement a Cart Abandon strategy - either sending "instant discounts" via email good for 24hrs to complete order,
Training users to haggle at checkout and not trust the list prices
> calling dropped carts.
harassing people offline after they leave your store?
> or hitting a pop-up of live help
Does anyone believe in live help? All I ever see it do it block content I am trying to read, providing the equivalent of menu-driven CLI (the scripts agents follow) when I already have a powerful GUI in front of me.
After realizing this, one must then get over the idea that accepting money from such people is unethical.
Many people are nervous - even scared - when purchasing online, because of the numerous stories of "having stuff hacked".
Live help lets them know there's a human being at the end of the line.
Abandoned carts are often a manifestation of that fear - so again, contacting them afterwards lets them know that there's a real person there.
And many people like the idea of something but when it comes to the actual commitment get cold feet - discounts can help in that case.
Cart abandonment coupons haven't worked for us at all. My thinking is that our 10% discount isn't steep enough but I have no data. Since I don't have any insight in to what people do after they abandon the cart I'm not sure throwing discounts at them is an effective strategy.
Calling dropped carts? That's not something we have the bandwidth to do.
Definitely, this is quite a risky one. Just speaking for myself if I notice a Cart Abandon strategy, I will always abandon my cart in the future to keep getting the dicsount.
True, but they would have gotten more money had they held their ground. I was still going to buy the item, sometimes I abandon the cart accidentally because I got distracted.
However if you shove a discount in my face assuming I'm about to walk, I'm going to use it even if I was just about to pay full price without hesitation.
> This is to say: you have not found a loophole; you are not a concern to the merchant; no one should be frightened by this tactic because of your story.
Assuming the 15%-20% is all extra markup, this is true. Also it's not "my story" for the record. Sites like retailmenot index cart abandon strategies. Way more people are going to use that discount than just those you intend. If that's an acceptable loss, then great.
It's still not necessarily a great idea depending on your business.
But that's the whole point of A/B testing, rather than argue of hours based on intuition and anecdote you can actually test these ideas. No need for debate here, just run experiment and look at the results.
Note that debate is still needed in order to properly setup A/B test.
Only then can you reasonably discuss the issues presented. If your results say 'this is definitely a good idea for increasing purchases', then rather than do long term A/B tests it would be better to just monitor overall trends in potential abuse.
So there are really two separate issues: Do discount follow ups to abandoned carts create a large increase in purchases. This is easily answered with an A/B test
Are people likely to abuse this discount system? And how do we stop it if they do? This is hard to test with a simple A/B test and is much better answered just by monitoring the purchases and looking at the extreme cases. Also this is pretty easily solved by just adding limits to when the system grants discounts.
This is one of the very things they are trying to fight.
I can think of at least two occasions where having a Live Help function available on a site made the difference between me buying something and not buying it. One of those things (a sit-stand desk) was quite expensive.
It doesn't appear to be a problem for you (your payment page for CC info doesn't gracefully degrade with JS disabled and is impassible - you might want to fix that!) but I've seen it on other sites, and it's especially a problem when other sites don't use SSL as a fail safe for this sort of case which I have also seen. For Stripe it might perhaps be worth considering denying all payments from non HTTPS pages for this reason. It forces the merchants to have an SSL failsafe.
Also with CC info being entered on your site, it's presumably trivial for the site itself to record the CC numbers. Trust is the issue here, I'm not going to be entering my CC number on a site I've never heard of, with no reputation. Stripe doesn't solve this issue, Paypal does. Stripe looks wonderful, but it's not going to be suitable for everyone.
Only if you do it wrong. From the Stripe docs: "The only thing to note is how input fields representing sensitive card data (number, CVC, expiration month and year) do not have a 'name' attribute. This prevents them from hitting your server when the form is submitted."
> It doesn't appear to be a problem for you (your payment page for CC info doesn't gracefully degrade with JS disabled and is impassible - you might want to fix that!) but I've seen it on other sites, and it's especially a problem when other sites don't use SSL as a fail safe for this sort of case which I have also seen.
Again, SSL is covered by the docs. Stripe says you need it. Not that you should consider it, or that it's a bonus, but that you need it. https://stripe.com/help/ssl
No putting them in a DB, no putting the in a log file (not even the last four or something like that), nothing. So if your form takes the numbers in, you make an API call, and then you blank them in memory you were OK.
If you put them in the user's session, you were in trouble.
It's all insanely complicated, and the only good solution is "don't do it." There's a good reason people use things like Stripe, PayPal, Authorize.net's CIM (where they store it and certify that they are PCI compliant).
Having the card never go to your server is the best way to make sure you are PCI compliant, as you mention.
From data security standpoint is is easier to let somebody else do it, but end users tend to have a less satisfying checkout experience.
This is by no means my area of expertise (as I have accidentally proven).
Stop reminding me I can't use Stripe all the time.
One of the main reasons we chose the US to incorporate in was for access to business tools like this. But with neither founder having a SS number we can't use the service.
So as StavrosK said, can we please lay off the Stripe hype for a while? It's not a viable service for use outside the US, and it's not going to be (at least for any responsible business that isn't willing to bet the company on not getting into tax/regulatory trouble) for a long time.
I absolutely understand the frustration being expressed and am not suggesting that these threads are the wrong place to express it. But the idea that we should "lay off the Stripe hype" sounds wrong. It's entirely possible that we're not hyping Stripe enough. Startups need all the help they can get.
Because at this point, it isn't newsworthy, it's really just noise/advertising. It's not as if anyone reading HN who can use Stripe hasn't heard about them many times already. If they launch an actual service that anyone outside the US can sign up for, then great, let's shout from the rooftops. If there is something constructive that the rest of us can do to help them achieve that goal, by all means, let's talk about it. Otherwise, with due respect to Patrick, there isn't really very much new and interesting to discuss in this area and I would prefer that HN concentrate on things that are new and/or interesting (such as the other parts of Patrick's post).
Startups need all the help they can get.
Yes, we do. And if and when a service like Stripe starts to offer it, I'll be all for having the news on HN. But until then, yet another group hug about how wonderful Stripe is followed by yet another round of moaning that it's not available anywhere outside the US and yet another apologetic post from one of the developers saying they're working on it is a bit like reading about every new Firefox release on Slashdot.
I'd heard of them, but I didn't know that their co-founder would run git bisect if you reported a bug. Plus, 350 up votes on this story suggest that it was worth posting on Hacker News.
Still using it. Great product. But I had to file an extension and crap to get it all sorted out, which was highly annoying.
[Update:] So, the background here is that 1099 reporting rules changed last year. A lot of companies—including some of our partners—didn't yet have their infrastructure in place to properly handle them. A lot has been written about the change in the law (search "2011 1099 confusion" for a small sample), and there's been a fair amount of ambiguity and confusion overall (Citibank issued 1099s for frequent flyer miles; whether this was necessary isn't yet clear). Due to this confusion, the IRS actually backed off plans to require the reconciliation of Form 1099K in tax returns filed for 2011.
In Stripe's case, one of our banking partners responsible for the filings was unable to meet the original filing date for all 1099s. While they filed a proper extension with the IRS, this meant that receipt of your 1099 was delayed.
As you point out, we should have done a much better job communicating this at each step -- and, obviously, receiving tax forms in mid-April is not an acceptable outcome regardless. We are working on controlling the process much more closely ourselves next year so that this does not happen again.
But the bottom line is: sorry. We built Stripe to make this kind of hassle go away, and we're doing everything we can to make sure that this was a one-off blip.
If I'm not mistaken, Google Checkout and PayPal did not send me 1099 - I just had to report all the revenue received from them myself.
My guess is that a lot of customers don't know what Paypal is and don't realize they can just use their credit card.
Even if you have an account, they don't consistently keep my default payment method - often switching back to my bank account even when I've made a CC my default.
This all adds up to a level of friction that I hate, hate, hate, hate as a user. I can understand people abandoning a purchase at that point.
You can see the big jump in May-July (although the jump for July is 32%, not 53%)
This is going on my "best of" list of HN-related excerpts
I am not easily emotionally moved by git command lines, but this is clearly somebody who understands me and what I need in life
I can't believe the good old 'computer was hit by a lightning bolt' wasn't in one of your test cases, Patrick! I mean it's so obvious :P
More seriously, that is one of the wildest reasons for a bug I think I've ever heard.
I would love to do a redesign for Appointment Reminder if you're interested :)
Now to answer the question you asked: I have lived in Japan for my entire adult life, but prior to that I grew up in the United States. I routinely use my former address, which my parents still live at, for business purposes. Even if it weren't trivial for me to open accounts online, I would still have accounts in good standing from e.g. my college student days, which are sufficient to bootstrap me into a customer relationship at any US bank.
but great customer service is still great, no matter what.
Here are some advantages to FastSpring:
FastSpring works with developers and companies located anywhere US companies are authorized to do business, handles global tax compliance and tax payment management including for VAT, enables end users to pay using their localized currency to avoid bank/exchange fees and a poor US/USD-centric user experience, provides an order page localized in 20+ languages, has PayPal integrated, lets you skip the PCI Assessment Questionnaire, offers fraud prevention, a built-in shopping cart, Google Analytics and marketing ad campaign tracking integration, an unlimited number of easy to setup post-order notifications, designs an order page to match the look and feel of the other pages of the developer’s website, offers merchandising features for cross and upselling to maximize the average order size and optimizer order conversion, built-in notifications, a future bill testing GUI, pre-bill notifications for annual subscriptions, reseller and affiliate management, user role mgmt. & change tracking, consulting for SEO/PPC/Affiliate marketing/Online marketing/order page optimization, one-time purchases in addition to recurring billing, among other advantages. Hope that's helpful with your comparison.
Fast Spring is 5.9% plus $.95 or 8.9% flat per order.
Stripe 2.9% + 30 cents.
Due to their instant sign-up and almost instant approval however, they were the only option for a quickfix while we await chase or braintree to approve our applications. :)
Love their UI & easy integration though.
[I used to work for 2co. I don't any more.]
This is a very interesting result. I would have thought that additional payment options would boost sales on the margin i.e. increase conversion by a couple of percent (not percentage points ;) for e.g. international customers, or people who already have accounts with GG/PP.
Patrick: Any chance you could elaborate a little more here? Would be very interesting to see some more detailed stats on this aspect.
If you really like stats, well, here you go: http://www.bingocardcreator.com/abingo/results Rollover any conversion rate for raw stats.
"Offer Credit Cards As Sole Checkout Option" tested Stripe vs. the three checkout methods.
"Purchasing Page To Send People To"'s "Classic" is http://www.bingocardcreator.com/purchasing.htm, "Cc Checkout" was the hacky Boostrap CC form. (Not currently available online.)
"Offer Credit Cards As Checkout Option" was GC/PP/Stripe vs. GC/PP.
My bank account is in the states, but I need to be able to charge Europeans in euros, Brazilians in reais, Japanese in yen, etc...
I think this is more "people who are on the margin where they MIGHT be interested in paying for more cards can be convinced when they hit the pretty checkout page". If you don't need more than 15 cards, you probably don't have a burning need for the paid version.
"Currently Stripe is US only..."
That said, in 13 years of credit card use, I have been defrauded 0 times.
On my web site PostJobFree.com there are 3 payment options: Direct (backed by Stripe), PayPal, and Google Checkout.
Stripe covers ~85% of new transactions. Paypal ~10%. Google Checkout ~5%.
Plus, if you're a startup, you don't really know how much you're going to be selling (or not selling). It's a good idea to keep associated costs variable until you have some better benchmarks.
Stripe is unquestionably the fastest, easiest way to be able to accept credit card payments online without making yourself look like an amateur by having google checkout or the like. Not having to go through the process of getting a merchant account--and the way their fees are structured--has been a huge time and sanity saver for me, both for myself and for projects I've worked on.
In theory, you could do it in less time, but only if you already have your business licensed, registered and a business bank account set up in exactly the right way.
But since that's part of the list of things you need to do to get a traditional payment provider set up that Stripe doesn't require, it's a little disingenuous to pretend that setup times are in any way comparable.
I set up Stripe for two of my products recently. In both cases, it was a matter of minutes to get the account verified and processing real charges from real credit cards and having them sent to my bank account.
In return for doing all that work for you their fees aren't as competitive as other alternatives. That's fair given the work they do.
Also, we have volume discounts for people processing more than a million dollars a year, so this may be something you'd be interested in.
The per-transaction fees are lower, but there is a monthly (or yearly) cost. The API is big because it covers so many cases that you probably won't use.
Plus there are fees. Sure, they'll let you do e-checks (every customer wants those, right?), but that's a fee. Return? That's a fee. Chargeback? Fee. Process transactions in real-time instead of a batch at the end of the day? Fee. Log into the web interface? It's free, but it kinda slow and hard to use so you'll waste far more time that you would expect.
If you've got a business that does a lot of sales, or sales of very hight dollar items, that kind of thing can really add up. But if your sales are smaller or much more sporadic then the time investment and all the little fees may end up making Stripe cheaper. Sometime an extra 1% more than pays you back in lack of stress.
Also, for what it's worth, I remember PayPal, Google Checkout, and Amazon all being roughly the same as Stripe.
We use stripe for everything else we build for clients though, and it's awesome.
You have no clue what you're talking about. I guarantee Stripe will charge you CB fees too.
Only way Stripe is worth the time and % they jack it up is if you do LOW volume.
edit: 5 seconds in google and Stripe charges $15 for a chargeback, same as Chase. Basically paying Stripe 1% + another $0.15 or so per transaction. NO THANKS! No one doing any type of CC volume would be dumb enough to give that $ away.
If you're interested the service is called the Customer Information Manager. You can use it to store any secure data that you'd rather not be responsible for. I've used it to great success.
My main reason for my love affair with authorize.net? Recurring billing. They nailed it.
For most people, they aren't (and don't want to be) experts in payment processing. Improving their product moves the needle by more than 1% for the same (or less) effort than spending time on payment processing.
Stripe is an amazing service and their founders are amazing people. I wish I could blow them, but they probably wouldn't even let me b/c the VCs are already all over that. On the other hand, for people who enjoy saving money, becoming PCI compliant and saving 1% + trans fees is another alternative and there are numerous tutorials available to help anyone do that within a few hours even if you are severely autistic.
Seriously: they're on my blog because of the reasons in the post. My blog's on HN because, well, that's a complicated topic but suffice it to say that it happens with a fair degree of regularity.
We try not to post on HN unless we actually think people on HN will like the content (and we've argued internally before and decided not to post stuff to HN because it didn't seem useful enough).