Walmart takes hard look at online soft declines

BY Dan Berthiaume

Walmart is piloting a means of automatically retrying online payments that are rejected due to issuer error.

Walmart Labs, the technology arm of Walmart, recently ran a test of a solution designed to automatically address “soft declines” on the Walmart e-commerce site. Soft declines are rejections of credit card authorizations from the issuing banks for online orders due to generic issuer errors such as server timeout or issuer unavailability. They occur when Walmart’s backend system starts sending payment attempts to payment gateways.

Walmart Labs found that most declined Walmart.com purchases were soft declines. Although the site usually sends a customer back to the payment page to re-enter payment information in the event of a soft decline, many customers were simply abandoning their rejected purchases.

To save the orders dropped off from soft declines, Walmart Labs implemented a feature that automatically resends the same information the customer had previously entered after the payment receives a soft decline. The response of the automatic attempt overwrites the initial soft decline status.

This version retries once, and the response on the auto retry is the final status of the attempt and was tested against the original version using the Walmart Labs Expo A/B testing platform.

Final results showed that the automatic authorization retry feature for soft declines resulted an incremental lift in gross merchandise volume (GMV) per visitor for credit card payments on Walmart.com. This resulted from lifts in order counts and average order size (AOS). According to Walmart Labs, historical data suggests that orders with high basket size are more likely to be soft declined, meaning automatic retry is helping authorize orders with higher basket sizes which were initially soft declined.

“This feature was really successful in terms of the level of effort to achieve and the amount of revenue lifted,” Ling Jing, product analytics manager, payments, Walmart Labs, said in a blog post.


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