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How is the Pain of Paying Used in eCommerce?
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What is the Pain of Paying?

The Pain of Paying principle explains the psychological link between payment and pleasure (or lack thereof) gained from the experience or product you purchase. The simple fact is that people don’t like to part with their money and so making payment can reduce the pleasure taken from making a purchase. It has been proven that spending money actually activates the areas in our brain that are associated with physical pain and feelings of disgust.

The more evident, tangible or transparent the payment is, the less we are able to enjoy the pleasure of our purchase. We feel this “pain of paying” less when we pay by credit card or when there is a gap between paying and the time of receiving or using the purchase. Inversely, we feel it more when we have to pay for something immediately or by cash as it really draws attention to the amount that something is costing us.

How Is Pain of Paying Used In Digital Marketing?

Allowing a quick or even one-click payment by creating an account and storing customer details is one way in which websites reduce the pain of paying. For example when you buy music or a movie on iTunes there is no mention of the fact that you are paying. You simply click on the ‘download’ button and as your bank details are stored, payment is automatic making it less visible and tangible.

Pain of Paying

Top 6 Tactics To Reduce The Pain of Paying

There are a number of simple ways to reduce the pain of paying through the design of your eCommerce pages and it is used to great effect by global retailers like Amazon, Nike and Shopify as well as SaaS products like Livechat and Survey Monkey.

  1. Offer free trials
    Perhaps the most obvious tactic. Customers get to experience the benefits of your product/service without money changing hands.
  2. Have a clearly displayed refund policy
    This makes the buyer feel the commitment to the purchase isn’t as permanent as they are able to get their money back if necessary, so it feels less risky.
  3. Offer free returns
    The cost of returning an item can be almost as off-putting as buying it, so offering free returns means that buyers can get their money back without incurring a cost.
  4. Ask for card details at the end of billing information
    In this way, simpler information is asked for first, and even auto-completed, and they are already engaged and motivated when card details are requested.
  5. Avoid currency symbols (or reduce the font size)
    By removing the currency symbol, this reduces the persons association with money. If multiple currencies are needed, reducing the font of the symbol harnesses the same effect.
  6. Provide reassurance by displaying eCommerce trust symbolsThese are an easy way to reassure customers that their payment, and most importantly their card details are being processed securely (e.g. Norton or TRUSTe)


By reducing the pain of paying you can remove the negative feelings visitors may experience that deter them from completing a purchase. With a few small changes to your digital marketing, you can significantly improve conversion rates.

Benjamin Ligier Benjamin’s bonus tip:
Want to Reduce Pain of Paying For Your eCommerce?

You can read more in our suggested pain of paying tactics. To apply them to your own website, take a free 30-day trial of our AB Testing Platform or to add persuasive notifications to your existing site.

If you liked this article, you might also like: Gaze CueingThe paradox of Choice, Social Proof and The Scarcity Effect

Benjamin Ligier

by Benjamin Ligier

Benjamin is CRO Expert at Convertize, based in London. Passionate about design and webmarketing, he started out working in email marketing and then specialised in Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO).