For merchants, a resolution worth considering as the new year begins is to make smart financial decisions and strive to offer customers a seamless online shopping experience. Working to improve how online customers interact with digital buy buttons is a single step that could simultaneously address these two goals.
It’s a New Year’s goal that merchants would be wise to consider and could carry significant financial benefits. As highlighted in the recent Ready. Set. Buy (Buttons) Insider Report, a PYMNTS.com and Abine collaboration, digital buy button acceptance is considerably low across all online merchants, a trend that could be putting as much as $159.6 billion in online sales at risk. Improving the online experience for shoppers could make 2017 a very good financial year for online businesses.
Some companies are recognizing this risk and are taking steps to deliver online shoppers a smoother checkout experience. PYMNTS recently spoke with Daniel Patricio, product manager of eCommerce company Shopify, and Sachin Devand, president and chief technology officer of AHA Life, an online luxury lifestyle retailer, about how their companies are working to grow buy button acceptance, improving the mobile shopping experience and the role social media is expected to play in online commerce in the coming years.
Fixing the mobile shopping experience
Mobile shopping is gaining steam among consumers and is expected to grow even more over the new few years. According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, 79 percent of U.S. adults made some kind of online purchase, while 51 percent made a purchase using a mobile device.
Patricio said Shopify has also seen an uptick in mobile traffic and is looking at ways to improve the mobile shopping experience.
“We believe buy buttons are all about user experience and improving the merchant user experience, and there are many ways to take advantage of that,” said Patricio.
He said Shopify recognizes opportunity to improve the checkout experience and improve conversion rates for mobile shoppers. To meet that goal, the shopping software company is focusing on improving the customer shopping experience through embeddable buy buttons and social media tools.
“Social media is a huge driver of traffic for a lot of our merchants,” Patricio said. He believes merchants that provide a seamless shopping experience for social media users who discover interesting products on social media channels like Facebook or Pinterest are making wise investments because they are reaching consumers where they gather and are making efforts to deliver a smooth checkout experience on a mobile device.
Improving the mobile shopping experience presents the most opportunity for merchants to make gains among online shoppers, said Patricio.
“The benefits are most dramatic on mobile,” he said. “We look at the stuff we’re doing with the social channels as definitely improving those mobile conversion rates.”
Taking social media seriously
Social media buy buttons got off to a slow start among consumers, with low rates of shopper activity reported. But Patricio acknowledges there are a lot of “moving parts” in eCommerce around how people discover and buy products online. He described buy button initiatives taken by social media companies like Facebook and Instagram as “interesting” and thinks they could have implications for improving online shopping down the road.
“The big boys, these social media sites, are really investing to improve the user experience for shoppers,” he said. “There’s still a lot happening there, but I think in the future there are still a lot of interesting things that can happen around that shopping experience.”
AHA Life’s Sachin Devand agrees with that assessment. AHA Life is a lifestyle commerce site that features works from over 4,000 designers and connects over 1 million users and sellers from over 45 countries.
Devand acknowledged that his company has seen limited success with social media buy buttons, which he attributes, in part, to his company’s nice product offerings.
“The kind of products that we carry, a whole story goes behind it,” said Devand. “And that’s just harder to do on social media.”
But he’s still interested to see how merchants adapt to social media technologies. Recently he noticed Facebook getting more creative with its advertising and is curious to see how AHA Life could tap into that creativity.
“[Facebook’s] newer ads have been more about storytelling and the whole user experience than just, ‘Hey! Here is a picture and a little blurb with 150 characters. Buy now,’” said Devand. “I think they’re going beyond that. In 2017, that could be something which we could leverage more and see how that goes.”
Beyond social media buy buttons, Devand said there are other opportunities for merchants to enhance their user experience and boost checkout conversion rate. On that front, he said AHA Life has seen more checkout conversions because the company reminds customers that they have items waiting in their shopping carts and reducing the steps necessary for checkout when possible.
“Typically, checkout is like a four-step process, [and] we skip steps if we already have the information that we need,” said Devand. “If a customer wants to save their shipping and billing address, then when you’re looking at your bag and you say, ‘Begin checkout,’ we’ll take you straight to the placeholder and show you a summary.”
Devand also said improving the checkout process from product pages is important for AHA Life’s bottom line because the company’s sales are heavily discovery-based. He said removing obstacles to checkout has led to higher conversion rates for customers.
“We are seeing a lot of payments and checkout happen directly from the product pages,” said Devand. “The number of checkouts have increased because you can buy directly on the product pages.”
Looking ahead, Devand expects more consumers will get used to shopping with their phones, which will lead to more payment technology integration with smartphones and mobile wallets.
“I think people are looking for more convenience,” he said. “Mobile device as a payment mechanism will get more proliferated.”
Patricio encourages merchants looking ahead to 2017 to work toward simplifying the mobile and social media shopping experience they provide for consumers. Being ready for the technological changes coming to eCommerce is important for online companies to maintaining their brands’ reputation.
“Your software and your technology is as much a part of your product as the box that you ship things in,” said Patricio.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
About The Report
The Ready. Set. Buy (Button) Insider Report, a PYMNTS.com and Abine collaboration, is designed to detail the state of play regarding buy buttons online and how they made those decisions. We examined the websites of the top 1,000 online merchants and observed patterns of buy buttons and type and size of merchant, average online sales and the opportunity to drive conversion and sales. We also analyzed data to delve into the strategic intent of the players for approaching the merchants on which their buy buttons sit.