Because e-commerce businesses rely on electronic payment methods such as credit and debit cards, they invariably experience payment declines. There are over 2,000 factors that can cause these declines, from out-of-date information or insufficient funds to gateway issues and fraud. When recurring payments are declined, subscription e-commerce companies can lose subscribers to involuntary churn.
To reduce this risk, you need an effective decline management strategy. Recurly Research has compiled comprehensive benchmark data on the top reasons for payment declines within subscription e-commerce—and how these impact transaction success rates. This research provides actionable insights on:
To view the research and benchmark your business' decline management strategy, please complete the form.
While there are many reasons e-commerce subscription businesses experience payment declines, these were the five most common reasons for payment failures. Four of the top five decline reasons are 'soft' declines, which can be repaired by retrying the card. "Invalid Card Number" is the only 'hard' decline in the top five, meaning retries will not be effective. Instead, payment recovery may require contacting the cardholder.
Physical goods merchants can expect to see a slightly higher decline rate compared to their digital counterparts. Box of the month in particular had the highest decline rate of any industry at 12.86%. The higher decline rate found in the Education industry may be due to seasonality in this industry.
In general, businesses that have higher decline rates tend to experience higher churn. These factors highlight the important role of a decline management strategy, including both transaction retries and dunning, to recover declined payments.
Healthcare had the highest median payment recovery rate, followed by SaaS. Effective payment recovery techniques combat churn, and our data has shown that the industries with the highest payment recovery rates also tend to have the lowest churn rates. The fact that nearly all industries see recovery rates of 40% or above demonstrates the significant impact an effective decline management strategy can have in e-commerce subscription businesses.
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We examined a sample of over 900 e-commerce sites which used the Recurly subscription management platform. The study encompassed a period of twenty-four months, from January 2017 to December 2018. All data was aggregated and anonymized. Our study uses median, 25th, and 75th percentile values to eliminate outliers and provide a more accurate representation of the data.