What is Visa Checkout?

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Offering your product for sale online is one thing, but having customers actually buy it is another. Streamlining your purchase process is one way to turn shoppers into buyers, and that's the point of Visa Checkout. It offers customers a way to make online purchases quickly and easily, across multiple merchants and devices.

Why You Should Use Visa Checkout

If you currently operate an e-commerce site, or if you've researched the success rate of these sites across the industry, you've probably discovered that only a fraction of the customers who put products into their cart actually complete the purchase. Visa Checkout helps boost those rates – substantially, according to a study the company commissioned – by making it supremely easy to check out. Paying through Visa Checkout requires just three clicks, and never takes customers away from your site. By comparison, the rival service from PayPal opens a new browser window and takes your customer to PayPal's site to log in and complete the purchase. Visa Checkout is easier, quicker, and has less impact on a customer who's on a slow connection or a limited data plan. These are all positives, for the customer and for you. It also means that customers don't have to enter their address and card data for each purchase, which is especially welcome for customers shopping from a mobile device.

How to Pay With Visa Checkout

Visa Checkout isn't a payment method in itself; it simply expedites payment. When a customer on your site clicks the "Pay with Visa Checkout" button, a screen pops up showing the customer's default payment method and shipping address. Clicking to accept those options leads to a third screen, where the order can be finalized. That's it, in most cases. Customers can opt to set up Visa Checkout on the fly, as part of the payment process, and they can also choose a different payment method or shipping address.

One benefit of Visa Checkout is that it can be used with any credit or debit card – not just Visa – and can even be used with third-party wallet services such as Android Pay. Any way your customer wants to pay is fine: Visa Checkout takes care of the details, and you get the money.

Is Visa Checkout Free?

There's no charge per transaction with Visa Checkout, for you or for your customer. The cost to you, as the merchant, lie in implementation. If your shopping cart software has built-in support for Visa Checkout, it's relatively easy to add that to your payment options. If not, it must be added on after the fact using Visa Checkout's Application Programming Interface, or API. If you have in-house programming staff to support and tweak your website, they can give you an estimated cost for the project. If your shopping cart services are purchased from your payment processing provider, or from a third-party firm, ask the firm for a similar estimate. Comparing your current "conversion rate" – the number of customers putting items in a cart, versus the number completing a purchase – against the numbers claimed by Visa for Visa Checkout, and then calculating your projected volume of sales against the cost of implementation, will give you a reasonable working estimate of your payback time.

What About Security?

One of the beauties of Visa Checkout, for the merchant, is that it takes security issues off the table. Unless you have a specific reason for wanting the customer's payment information, you never actually handle any sensitive, identifiable data. Visa handles that for you instead, limiting your potential liability and placing that responsibility squarely on the customer's shoulders. Visa is one of the industry's longtime heavyweight players, so your customers should feel a level of familiarity and confidence in the service that a less-known wallet startup would be unable to match.

A Few Points to Finesse

If you opt to implement Visa Checkout, there are a few things you can do to keep the experience simple and painless for your customers. Your existing payment options should remain untouched, with Visa Checkout appearing simply as a new option. You can direct attention to it with a colorful flag or banner, pointing out this new option. Make sure there's a prominent link to click for more information, since many people will be unfamiliar with Visa Checkout.

A key point to emphasize is that it works for whatever cards they use, not just Visa. That's a common misconception, and one that will limit potential uptake. You should also point out that users can sign up in seconds as part of their purchase process, and won't have to go elsewhere or trudge through a drawn-out process to do it. Convenience and simplicity are the program's calling cards, and the more you emphasize that on your site, the more effectively it can work for you.

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About the Author

Fred Decker learned business fundamentals at second hand as an insurance and mutual funds broker, and at firsthand as a retail store manager and the chef/proprietor of his own restaurants. He has written hundreds of business-related articles for sites including Zacks.com, Chron.com, Vitamix.com, Bizfluent and GoBankingRates and many others. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.