October 20, 2011, 11:55 AM

L.L. Bean’s payments strategy pays off

The retailer edges out Amazon.com in a scorecard of online payment strategies.

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Edging out Amazon.com Inc., apparel and recreational sports gear retailer L.L. Bean Inc. scored the highest in a recent review of online payment strategies by payments research firm Javelin Strategy & Research.

The report, “2011 Online Retail Payments Scorecard: New Options to Maximize Online Shopping Revenue,” looked at 20 retailers listed in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. Half of the retailers operate either entirely or primarily online; the others are multichannel retailers with significant number of stores or catalogs.

Javelin scored each retailer for the quality of their online payments strategies within four categories: payments information offered to consumers, options available to consumers for making payments, payment security and customer support. With the maximum available score at 100, L.L. Bean scored the highest with 63, followed by Amazon at 61 and HSN Inc. at 60. The lowest scoring retailer was online movie retailer Netflix Inc., which scored 20. The average score was 47.

Out of the 100 possible points, Javelin allotted a maximum of 32 points for payment information, 27 for payment options, 17 for payment security, and 24 for customer support.

The report found that retailers generally scored the highest in customer support features, followed by payment security, payments information and payment options. Javelin notes, however, that retailers could quickly bolster their performance in every category by better explaining their payments services to consumers. “Many merchants are well-positioned to dramatically improve consumers’ online payments experience by enacting simple and cost-effective recommended changes,” Javelin says.

Javelin, found, for example, that many merchants fail to adequately communicate both payments information, such as which payment types they accept, and their return policies on the most heavily trafficked web pages, such as product and checkout pages. Rather, that information is often buried in a Help or Frequently Asked Questions section, says the report.

The report also found that retailers fail to clearly explain their privacy and liability policies. Regarding customer support, it found that retailers can do a better job of providing contact information, multilingual support, social media connections, rewards programs and purchase guarantees.

“We recommend that merchants proactively educate consumers about the safety of online shopping, as nearly half of consumers indicate they would make more purchases online if merchants offered increased security and protection from fraud,” says Beth Robertson, director of payments research at Javelin. “While many aspects of online purchasing security involve back-end processes that are transparent to customers, incorporating FAQs that address security concerns or promoting a consumer liability policy can reassure hesitant online shoppers.”

Following are the scores Javelin allotted to each retailer in the study (with 100 being the highest possible score), and their rank in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide:

● L.L. Bean, 63, 21

● Amazon.com, 61, 1

● HSN, 60, 26

● Best Buy Co. Inc., 58, 11

● Overstock.com Inc., 58, 27

● Sears Holdings Corp., 57, 7

● Macy’s Inc., 56, 17

● Buy.com, 55, 32

● Apple Inc., 51, 3

● One Stop Plus, 51, (Redcats USA, 33)

● Walmart.com, 49,

● Costco Wholesale Corp., 47, 16

● J.C. Penney Co. Inc., 45, 20

● Vistaprint Ltd., 44, 36

● 1-800-Flowers.com Inc., 43, 45

● Target Corp., 38, 22

● Avon Products Inc., 33, 30

● Amway Global, 31, 28

● Victoria’s Secret, 25, 18

● Netflix, 20, 13

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