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Payment Card Decline – Understanding it to Tackle it

Shamim Yousfani
October 1, 2022


If you run an e-commerce store, you might have found yourself wondering about how many customers or sales you lose to payment card declines – something you may feel you have no control over but actually, you do!

Read on to find out all about payment card declines and how you can gain control over it.

What does payment card decline mean?

It’s as simple as the name suggests: a buyer with a shopping cart filled with goods, at the checkout, ready to purchase them, fills out their credit/debit card details to pay for their purchase, but ends up leaving their shopping cart behind without purchasing the goods – why? Because their card was declined at checkout. This scenario sums up what payment card decline means, both in terms of its definition and its potential consequences.

Types of card declines

Payment card declines generally fall under two broad categories – which are important to understand in order to offer solutions to your customers for payment failure accordingly.  

Declined card payments can be categorized as:

1. Hard decline

When the card holder’s issuing authority does not authorize the transaction due to some major security issue like the card reported lost/stolen, fraud suspicion, or even invalid information. This type of card decline is permanent: it cannot be resolved by retrying the transaction and required contacting the issuing authority personally.

2. Soft decline

When the transaction is authorized by the card holder’s issuing authority but does not go through due to other issues like network/connectivity issues, insufficient funds, spending limits etc. This type of card decline is temporary: it can be resolved by retrying the transaction and the payment might be successful in another attempt.  

Why are payment cards declined?

How do payment card declines affect your e-commerce business?

Payment failure at checkout costs billions of dollars to the e-commerce industry globally every year, which is why it is crucial to know the different ways that this affects your e-commerce business adversely.

- Lost Order

The foremost and most obvious consequence of a declined card transaction is the possibility of losing that particular order against which the payment was being attempted, because the customer may not try any alternate payment method to complete their purchase after their card gets declined, leaving their order incomplete.

- Lost Customer

If a user is trying out your online store for the first time and faces a declined card payment on their first order, chances are that they might develop a security concern and not revisit your store. This can also apply to a returning user who has faced payment card declines multiple times at your store’s checkout, compromising loyalty.

- Compromised Image

Customers who face payment card declines at your online store may spread the word and not recommend your store positively amongst their circles. This can establish an unreliable image of your brand in the market, leading to loss of potential, secondary customers, apart from the loss of primary customers mentioned above.

No matter what way payment card declines are affecting your e-commerce business, it eventually translates into one thing: lost sales, lost money – which makes the next question the most important.

How can you combat payment card declines?

Hard declines or soft, there are ways around both. Some solutions apply to only hard declines and others only to soft declines, while some can also help counter both types of payment card declines. Here is how you can tackle with payment card decline to minimize the potential loss of sales it causes:

- Offering APMs

The current era of technological advancements has introduced countless digital payment methods and running an e-commerce business in this era, you should offer the most widely used, if not all, payment methods at checkout.

This solution is a great way to tackle hard declines, since they are long-term and cannot be solved instantly, leaving no other way than an alternate route to take to complete the purchase successfully.

When a customer’s payment via card is declined, you can automatically redirect them to the APMs that your online store is offering at checkout, encouraging them to complete their order instead of abandoning their shopping card.

- Offering a Retry

Another way to hold onto your customers a little longer, in an attempt to help them successfully complete their purchase, before they abandon their shopping cart due to a payment card decline is to give them another chance at it.

This solution can prove to be very effective at avoiding loss of sales to soft declines, since they are usually temporary blockers with a high chance of the transaction going through at a reattempt.

You can offer your customers an option to try paying via their card a second time, before rerouting them to APMs in case even the retry fails.  

- Re-engaging Customers

If you do not have an automated system in place to offer either of the above solutions, you can simply send out a re-engagement message to your customers who abandoned their carts upon facing a declined payment. Or, you can even adopt this approach after having offered the previous two solutions, if they were not successful in helping your customers place their order.

This solution can work very effectively in dealing with both hard and soft declines, since it is applied after a customer has already abandoned their cart, in an attempt to convince them to come back and complete their purchase.

Once your customer has left their order incomplete, you can shoot them a push notification, an elaborate email, or a quick SMS – instantly, a few days after their unsuccessful shopping experience, or even a week later, reminding them of their abandoned shopping cart and urging them to check it out through another payment gateway.

Now that you know all about payment card declines and understand their adverse impact on your e-commerce business, we are sure you would want to avoid its consequences wherever possible – which is where QisstPay comes in to help you do just that!

Book a demo with us now and see how our 1-Click Checkout platform can equip you with the solutions mentioned above to help you combat payment card declines and boost your sales!

Shamim Yousfani

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