Closing out 2022 by Looking Inward to Improve Our Remote Commerce Experience

Cici Northup

January 16, 2023

Cici Northup

At Glenbrook, we live to help organizations solve payments problems. As we’re upgrading our website, we knew it was time to fix a few of our own. Below I share how we apply our expertise and methodology to solve a merchant’s (us!) payments problems. 

The Context

Glenbrook Partners is a payments strategy consulting firm. Headquartered in the United States, we work globally to provide insights into how the payments industry is evolving and how to take advantage of this changing environment. As you would expect, in our own business, we send and receive many payments. Using Glenbrook’s use case taxonomy, we work in the following payments domains:

Our Problems

We had a suspicion that we weren’t managing our payments processes as efficiently and effectively as possible, so we conducted a payments assessment to answer, “in which of these four domains is the payments process suboptimal?” The answer: remote commerce. 

The top two remote commerce issues that surfaced during our assessment were the customer experience and reporting:

The customer experience is poor (ouch, that’s embarrassing): 

  • Customers can pay with a limited selection of payment methods even though our customers are global
  • The service offerings we have for sale are not always clear 
  • The checkout flow is not terrible but could be improved, particularly for end users signing up for a Payments Boot Camp® or an Advanced Workshop.
  • There is no account structure for end users to see their current or past orders

Reporting and reconciliation require multiple manual reviews (ouch to us, not so painful for you): 

  • Our current approach does not provide automated, insightful reporting of our online transactions

Fixing the Problems by Building a Long-term Solution

So, we applied our well-developed and well-tested framework for merchant payment acceptance improvement.

At a high level, the framework includes the following steps:

Develop acceptance requirements

We developed our list of remote acceptance requirements:

Requirement

Description

Ability to integrate with WordPress

Glenbrook is serendipitously developing a new website for a launch any day. As such, a new payments solution needs to integrate with our remote commerce access point, our website. We want to improve the user journey beyond core payments issues to include making offers and incentives clearer easier to take advantage of.

Ability to receive payment for all remote purchase services

We need to be able to receive payment for on-demand modules for asynchronous learning, public Payments Boot Camps® sign-ups, both in-person and virtual, and our public Advanced Workshops, both in-person and virtual. We also sell (a lot) of books online; we need to be able to receive payment for them. 

Ability to support a check out and login flow

We want users to experience a seamless checkout flow supported by an account and login structure for content purchasing and consumption.

Ability to integrate with an event platform

Our workshop reservation system takes advantage of an events platform. Payment capability must integrate into an event platform.

Ability to accept a wide array of locally relevant payment methods

Our customer base is global, and we must offer and support their preferred, location-appropriate payment method(s).

Ability to provide discounts and promotions

We want to offer and elevate relevant discounts and promotions.

Strong, automated reporting capabilities

We need to have more robust reporting capabilities that allow us to analyze purchase behavior to answer questions like: What is selling well? To whom? When?

Affordable price

We want a solution that meets our acceptance criteria (based on our framework) for an affordable and sustainable price.

Ease of implementation

The solution must be straightforward to implement using modern APIs.

Identify and evaluate potential solutions

We identified a short list of providers that we knew met a few of our requirements. After all, we are in the payments business.  (Because it’s important for us to stay unbiased we won’t share our provider list. Just envision a list of some five providers). We rated each provider against our requirements using a ‘High (H)’, ‘Medium (M)’, or ‘Low (L)’ scale, with a corresponding rationale. It resulted in a table that looked much like the following illustration:

Requirement

Description

Provider 1

Provider 2

Provider 3

A

A1

H, rationale

M, rationale

L, rationale

We then looked across our evaluation table to elevate the provider that consistently rated ‘High (H)’ when benchmarked against our requirements. Sometimes the evaluation isn’t cut and dry. For example, perhaps there are two providers that rise to the top of the list, or no provider meets all requirements. We were fortunate. There was one clear winner (sorry, can’t tell you).

Select and implement best fit solutions

Internally, we engaged our own stakeholders to review and align on our decision. I’m glad to say we’re in the process of implementing our new solution in coordination with our website refresh. 

So with our new site going live any day, visit Glenbrook.com, make a purchase, and tell us what you think! Was the check-out process seamless? Were you able to use the payment method you wanted to use? How else we can improve the experience??

For more on Glenbrook’s merchant payments operations assessment, check out these articles on Payments Views.

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