February 1, 2007, 12:00 AM

CompSource finds e-billing payment option boosts average order values

Customers choosing to pay through an e-mailed invoice, or e-bill—which lets them pay directly from their personal bank account—spend about 15-20% more per order than other customers, CompSource says.

Paul Demery

Managing Editor, B2B E-commerce

Customers at computer retailer CompSource.com choosing to pay through an e-mailed invoice, or e-bill-which lets them pay directly from their personal bank account-spend about 15-20% more per order than other customers, CompSource president Dean Bellone tells InternetRetailer.com.

About 4% of CompSource customers opt to use the Secure-eBill service, Bellone says. “It seems to be popular with a certain breed of customers that choose Secure-eBill for security reasons,” he says. When customers use Secure-eBill, the retailer doesn`t hold any of their personal information like credit card account numbers of birth dates, he adds.

The use of Secure-eBill among CompSource customers rises to over 6% when the e-billing service is tied to special promotions such as $10 off purchases, Bellone says. Price discounts for such promotions are funded by MODASolutions, the provider of Secure-eBill, though CompSource covers the costs of advertising the promotions, Bellone says. CompSource is No. 353 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

Secure-eBill automatically e-mails an invoice to a customer after she clicks the Secure-eBill incon when making an online purchase; the customer then logs into her secure online banking system to pay the bill. Depending on how the bank and the retailer are set up for payment transactions, the bank then either electronically transfers funds to the retailer or sends a paper check.

The retailer doesn’t ship the customer’s order, however, until it gets confirmation from MODASolutions that a fund transfer is guaranteed. MODASolutions alerts the retailer when the consumer’s bank completes an electronic funds transfer. If the bank sends the retailer a paper check, the retailer faxes a copy of the received check to MODASolutions, which confirms within an hour that the customer’s bank account has sufficient funds to cover the purchase; MODASolutions then guarantees final payment to the retailer.

The process saves the merchant from having to keep any credit card or other financial account data of customers, Bellone says.

While eliminating the possibility of dealing with chargebacks, which result from fraudulent credit card transactions and force a retailer to absorb the purchase price, the e-billing option also costs less to operate, Bellone says. Secure-eBill charges about 1% of the value of each transaction, compared to about 2-3% for credit cards, he says.

Offering Secure-eBill has also coincided with drops in the number of money orders received at CompSource and in the number of customer calls to CompSource’s contact center asking if the retailer accepts money orders, Bellone adds. “We’re not taking up as much resources to process paper money orders,” he says.

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