Back in 2000, Amazon introduced one-click buying to circumvent the typical shopping cart form (name, address and credit card information) and allow people to make purchases with just one click.
Amazon’s patented one-click technology was eventually licensed to other e-commerce retailers, notably Apple, and is today a standard web shopping convenience.
A new service from payments processor Stripe promises to do the same for purchasing through mobile apps with a new set of tools called Relay. It aims, as
It aims, as Venture Beat describes it, “to drastically improve the way both merchants and consumers transact on their mobile device.”
Stripe, ranked number 20 on Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies 2015 list, was founded in 2010 as a developer of API (Application Program Interface) tools to more easily build payment processing software applications.
You might think the name is a play on a credit card’s magnetic strip, but Stripe CTO Greg Brockman explains that the name had several connotations and, best of all, was an unclaimed domain name that didn’t have any specific brand connections.
Companies such as Lyft, Postmates, Shopify and Kickstarter use Stripe tools in their payment processing platforms. You probably don’t know that, and why should you—you don’t care how a retailer processes payments online, as long as it’s processed correctly and securely.
Relay may very well be another product you never heard of that nonetheless is going to change the way you shop and your expectations for the mobile shopping experience. Currently, while accounting for 60 percent of online shopping traffic, only fifteen percent of actual sales are made on mobile devices. As Siddarth Chandrasekaran points out:
Today, mobile e-commerce websites aren’t working: Ten-step shopping carts, mandatory account sign-up, slow page loads. When we get linked to a shopping cart on our phone, we usually just give up. That shouldn’t be surprising—most mobile shopping sites are fundamentally the same as the desktop sites that preceded them, despite the medium calling for something completely different.
Thanks to the new set of Relay tools, this whole process is simplified with the aim of integrating one-stop shopping within an app without requiring users to go to a mobile website and step through shopping cart ordering.
Related Article: How to Set Up an Ecommerce Website Without Any Tech Skills
One of the first Relay integrators is Twitter, for which TechCrunch reports as an example a tweet from online glasses retailer Warby Parker (which, perhaps not coincidentally, achieved top ranking in the same Fast Company list of 2015’s most innovative). A native window appears within Twitter displaying the product (e.g., sunglasses) with a buy button next to it. Click it and you’ve got a new pair of shades.
As AdWeek points out, the advantage to Relay is it allows retailers to easily offer products across multiple smartphone apps using a single, one-size-fits-all payment processing application. In addition to Twitter, ShopStyle, inMobi and Spring have incorporated Relay into their platforms for use by merchants such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Wish that have already signed up to use it.
How Relay Works
Relay is free to existing Stripe customers. Merchants add their product information, set shipping and tax preferences and select which apps are permitted to use it. It’s also possible to integrate Relay with SAP Hybris.
When a customer makes a purchase, the retailer is notified of the customer’s name, email and shipping address. Inventory and sales reports are automatically generated through Stripe. Refunds and chargebacks are handled by the merchant, same as any other non-Relay transaction.
The Advantage for Merchants
The big advantage to retailers is that as more apps adopt the Relay standards, they have an in-app purchasing platform ready to go, as opposed to having to build their e-commerce presence one by one for each app. As Founders Grid points out, every month over 50 million people tweet their intention to purchase something. Twitter alone represents huge market potential, which gets grows even bigger when you add in all the other apps that could conceivably contain a buy button as well.
The Advantage for Apps
For the apps themselves, the convenience for users to more easily and conveniently shop for featured products represents a value-add. Moreover, apps earn a small application flat fee for every purchase.
The Advantage for Consumers
This whole process is transparent to consumers. Check out is smoother and more convenient. Because the merchant handles all post-sale activities, such as email notifications and receipts, the service experience is no different than if the customer conducted the purchase through a desktop website.
The one bad side-effect is that the technology could increase the rate of impulse purchases (bad perhaps for consumers, though a definite plus for retailers).
As Stripe co-founder John Collison notes, “We’re not claiming to do anything magical here. This is how it should be in the first place.”