Archive for August, 2013

Why Facebook’s Checkout is good but not enough

The mobile ecommerce subject of today is that Facebook is working on a solution to prefill payment forms on mobile interfaces to help streamline the checkout experience on these devices. The test integration bridges Braintree to provide a frictionless buying experience for JackThreads. (TechCrunch, Forbes, PandoDaily, AllThingsD etc)

This looks like a pretty good approach from the limited info the Facebook team released publicly as it removes a couple of pain points from existing contenders that try to solve this problem. And these include every big wallet product on the market, from Google Checkout to Amazon Payments, PayPal and others. Facebook learned from their mistakes and is experimenting with models that might stick in a huge market yet to be dominated.

But let’s take a look at the pain points:

It’s still generally difficult to buy from mobile platforms

There’s obviously good mcomm experiences by great companies out there that are spending a lot of time and effort to onboard their mobile users. But not every merchant can spend as much as Fab, Gilt or Amazon on their apps. And once you’ve had the seamless payment experience of an Uber ride it’s quite difficult to go back to punching in 20-odd forms on a small virtual keyboard. It’s 2013 after all. 

Wallet companies fragment the ecommerce space

Merchants that integrate Checkout with Paypal or Google Wallet at least alleviate the pains of paying for your order. But that’s only if their users have an account with these services, a fact which fragments the market even more, especially with no clear winner in sight. And they’re not a breeze to integrate for merchants either.

The actual user experience of buying on mobile

These 2 figures speak for themselves.

Did you know that 97% of mobile shoppers abandon their mobile shopping carts before making a purchase? – Google Wallet API

20% of shopping sessions are already being started on mobile.  – Bill Ready, CEO Braintree.

20% of volume with up to 97% shopping cart abandonment. You do the math on how big this opportunity is.

So far Facebook are 2-up with payment processor agnostic solution that also takes some hassle out of filling out forms. 

But what if we’d take this further? The future of successful mobile ecommerce might very well be in the hands of app developers that are already capturing users attention at a very impressive rate. Pinterest, Polyvore, Styloko, Wanelo, Fancy et all have impressive user engagement numbers that speak for themselves. These customers love the experience of having great products put in front of them and the validation they seek from their peers to buy such a product. The whole model works out so well that one might even go so far as to say these companies are the new champions of affiliate marketing. And affiliate marketing really needs some clean champions these days.

So ecommerce starts to center on customers, their individuality and their peers core influence to their shopping decisions. What’s missing?

The piece that links it all and makes shopping a breeze.

It should be available to users in apps where they already love to spend their time. These companies know and understand their users intimately and are usually great at designing experiences on multiple platforms. From the customer’s POV shopping should be as simple as saying where you want your product delivered and what payment method you want to use.

A great shopping experience shouldn’t necessarily push users off the platform to place an order. It should also be platform agnostic, supporting web and mobile. Payment processor agnostic too so it’s universal. And lastly, merchants shouldn’t put in any effort to be a part of this. 

Facebook’s brief details on the new service show us they’ve checked a few of these items off the list. And we had all of the above traits in mind when we built amber.io, an API for placing orders on online stores. We believe this missing link is core to taking ecommerce a step further.

We’ll have more details and data publicly available over the next few weeks. In the meantime get in touch at hello@amber.io and feel free to check out a Chrome extension we’ve built to demo the technology at www.ambercheckout.com