By now, retailers are well aware that their customers are increasingly turning to their phones to browse and shop. Still, the checkout process is often the sticking point that prevents the final “buy” moment.
With a new product offering beginning beta testing today, PayPal hopes to make it easer for digital shoppers to purchase products wherever they first see them — on e-mail, for example, or on social media, blogs, articles or in an app.
The tools are referred to as PayPal Commerce, and are the result of PayPal’s acquisition in August of Modest, a mobile-commerce platform that lets retailers add digital “buy” buttons.
“All retailers are struggling to solve the mobile problem, whether it’s in apps or mobile e-mail,” said Harper Reed, the former chief executive officer of Modest who is now head of commerce at PayPal-owned Braintree, which powers and automates online payments. Reed said he thinks of the PayPal Commerce tools as a set of building blocks that help increase omnichannel conversion rates. “Often in software, the retailer is the one that is forgotten — they are the ones who have to migrate to the new platform or solve this problem.”
The movement toward so-called contextual commerce is already evident in offerings like Pinterest’s Buyable Pins and the incorporation of Uber into Facebook Messenger. Braintree, which merged with Modest, facilitated each of these.
It’s estimated that 65 percent of e-mail is opened on mobile devices and the potential difficulty a customer might have to actually click through to purchase, Reed said, is the type of problem they are working to solve. One solution includes taking a picture of a credit card and saving that information each time the customer revisits that retailer. They’ve also added the option to incorporate an “unbuy” button.
“It’s all about the onboarding,” Reed said. “We took a lot of our inspiration from what we saw happening in the social world. Signing up for Instagram is easy and works well and is delightful and we thought, How do we add this to e-commerce? We’re not trying to invent a new way to pay on mobile; it’s just about getting that information in.”
For now, utilizing PayPal Commerce is free during the beta testing, Reed said, and although he ultimately hopes the tools will encourage customers to use PayPal, he maintains the technology is “platform-agnostic” and is ultimately designed to make buying online easier and seamless.