Online Check Ordering: Where Consumers and FIs Find Common Ground

Wendy Blaeser June 16th, 2016

No matter how much they need each other — and they do — financial institutions and their account holders aren’t always on the same page. When it comes to buying products and services, today’s consumer is looking for a seamless experience and more and more often, an online experience. Unfortunately, when it comes to check ordering, most consumers aren’t getting that experience.

For this reason, Deluxe asked Javelin to dig into the consumer ordering experience at financial institutions to learn what is working and what isn’t. What we learned in the Javelin study, “Transform In-Branch Check Buyers into Online Check Shoppers,” is that consumers love the convenience of self-serve check ordering and FIs appreciate the cost savings and potential for additional revenue.

Paper checks remain an important payment option for millions of Americans, despite the continuing growth of digital payment modes; 89 percent of consumers still use checks to pay for things like rent, taxes, bills, and donations, according to another Javelin study. However, even as check usage declines, demand grows for the ability to order replacement checks through digital and mobile channels.

What’s motivating this shift from a brick-and-mortar ordering environment to the digital world? The consumers Javelin surveyed cited the top five advantages of online ordering (see chart below):

  • Convenience of reordering (72%)
  • Simplicity (67%)
  • Eliminating the need to interact with bank staff (34%)
  • Better prices (28%)
  • Better ability to compare options (23%)

Javelin - Motivations for Using Self-Service Channels2

These results paint a picture of consumers who are not only comfortable with digital banking of all kinds, but who also prefer the autonomy and independence online check ordering provides. Many consumers, it seems, feel basic servicing activities such as reordering checks do not require human interaction. Instead, they would rather reserve their “face-time” with bank staff for more complex banking needs.

Here again, banks are in agreement. Reducing in-branch check ordering allows banks to save staff time, lower costs, shorten teller lines, and reduce the errors that can be associated with hands-on check ordering. Investing less in the simple process of ordering checks allows FIs to put more time into more profitable customer interactions.

Yet barriers remain for both consumers and FIs.

Bank customers who still prefer off-line ordering are operating under some costly misconceptions (see chart below). More than a quarter (28%) believe they’ll get their checks for free if they order in branch rather than online — possibly because payment for checks ordered in-branch occurs seamlessly when the costs get deducted from the customer’s checking account. Shipping costs were a concern for about one in four customers who believe shipping is cheaper when you buy checks in-branch. And 19% found the online check-ordering process to be confusing.

Javelin - Barriers to Ordering Checks Using Self-Service Channels2

However, a loss of personal relationships was the top obstacle reported by consumers, with 35% raising this concern. FIs struggle with this issue too when encouraging in-branch consumers toward digital check buying.

Ultimately, as consumer preference continues to shift toward digital and mobile banking activities, financial institutions will need to find ways to make the transition smoother and more valuable for consumers and more profitable for FIs — without losing that human touch that helps solidify the customer-bank relationship. By transforming the order process from a basic bank transaction to an online shopping experience, FIs will increase the average check order transaction value while providing consumers with a better overall experience. If you want to read more about the findings of this exclusive research from Javelin, download the free report here.

This content is accurate at the time of publication and may not be updated.