“The dirty little secret about apps in 2016,” Amazon’s Vice President of Amazon Pay Patrick Gauthier told Karen Webster in a recent conversation, “is that people don’t download them.”
That’s a problem for merchants, who spend time and treasure building apps and then lose sleep worrying about their app distribution among an audience of consumers increasingly unwilling to try new things apps-wise. According to ComScore, Gauthier noted, about 40 percent of Americans downloaded fewer than zero apps in 2016. Consumers tend to have a handful of apps that they like and use regularly — the rest fall by the wayside, much to merchants’ chagrin.
However, on the list of apps that grace most consumers’ phones — and find themselves more often used than forgotten — is the Amazon app, which is installed on something like 3 out of 4 phones in the United States. And this, Gauthier noted, gave Amazon an idea about how it could best use that massive install base to the betterment of all in the ecosystem. The idea that they are rolling out today will be a new extension of the functionality of the Amazon app which will allow consumers to directly access third party services via Amazon’s app.
The feature is called Amazon Pay Places, and it will be getting its initial roll-out with T.G.I. Fridays customers in Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Richmond, VA and Wilkes-Barre, PA. Going forward, customers in those locations (and soon beyond) will be able to order ahead from T.G.I. Fridays using the new feature embedded in Amazon’s mobile app.
“One of the things we've been doing the last couple of years is thinking about how to connect merchants with the Amazon customer base, knowing they are very active connected shoppers whether online or on mobile,” Gauthier told Webster. “With what we are taking the lid off today — we are enabling merchants to instantly reach people who are highly mobile and very desirable as customers — without having to worry about app distribution.”
Amazon is not, Gauthier noted, going into the order-ahead business themselves — Fridays has built all that functionality already, and they are managing that program.
“This is another example of how we are connecting the Amazon customer base to a third-party merchant and making it easier for them to transact by creating a framework that allows third party data and contacts to be passed into our app via an extension. It does not require merchants to build an app — it instead allows them to leverage the functionality they've built in a new way.”
To use the function, customers need only to open the Amazon mobile app and click on the drop down menu tilted “Programs and Features.” By selecting Amazon Pay Places, customers can then browse the T.G.I. Fridays menu and place their order.
Merchants don't want to spend time selling their apps to customers — they want to sell their goods. And, when it comes to apps, Amazon has already made the sale — so to speak — with 75 percent of American smartphone owners. The goal, Gauthier noted, is to extend the simplicity of the Amazon shopping experience to merchants anywhere — including the physical world.
And, he noted, Pay Places is just getting started — and there are many more instantiations still possible from here.
We'll keep you posted.