PayPal’s Simple Solution To A Complex Commerce Problem

Braintree Head of Commerce Harper Reed has a simple message for merchants:

“If your interface doesn’t work for mobile, you’re done.”

Straightforward. Simple. And right on the money.

Yet, surprisingly, a message that many merchants may have gotten but not fully internalized, since a full 40 percent of sales are lost as a result of massive friction at checkout on mobile devices.

It’s a problem that PayPal Commerce, introduced yesterday (Feb. 11), is designed to solve, Reed says — not just for today but wherever commerce takes consumers and merchants. PayPal Commerce is a platform that exposes a set of simple tools — or, as Reed describes them, “building blocks” — that allows retailers to take advantage of “commerce’s next revolution: contextual commerce.”


As Reed explained in a recent conversation with MPD CEO Karen Webster, for PayPal Commerce — currently in beta — future-proofing commerce is about “giving merchants a simple stack of tools that makes it easy for commerce to happen in any context consumers might encounter it:” marketplaces, messaging apps, social networks, emails, blogs, ads or any digital environment yet to be discovered.


Big retailers have the luxury of hiring an entire tech team to solve these problems for them — deciding what contextual channels are important and then how to integrate to them.

But that’s not the majority of retailers; most lack the time, budget and resources to even know where to begin. PayPal Commerce is a platform that provides a single API that connects to a multitude of contextual commerce platforms. Integration once — get access to many platforms, like Bigcommerce or Shopify, that, often, connect to thousands of merchants.

Reed described a situation where retailers, instead of struggling to access every channel necessary to secure a customer’s attention, can utilize PayPal Commerce to help reach customers in whatever way — and via whatever device — fits the needs of their customers.

“Retailers struggle with trying to figure out every channel that is available,” Reed explained. “We understand that retailers do not have an opportunity to do an integration for every channel — that kills them. So, they only focus on the channels that are either easy or that they know, and they often miss out on the ones that are emerging and really do matter.”

All capable of carrying the merchant’s own brand yet powered by PayPal’s expertise, with the side benefit of delivering ~180 million PayPal accountholders.

“We don’t want to own the customer. Everything is branded [with the merchant’s] brand,” Reed said. “We’ve tried to make very sure the integrations that a retailer would do are very simple. We don’t want retailers to have to hire a tech team to get connected, installed and working with PayPal Commerce.”

Speaking Of Money … Commerce 24/7

“It’s a fact: Conversions drop after people leave their desktops and laptops at the office and head home,” Reed emphasized. That’s because the device that consumers turn to is the mobile device, which is their “go-to” for opening emails, reading blog posts and IMing friends but their “no-go” for making purchases.

“We’re giving retailers the opportunity to be optimized for mobile and, with that, finally, the opportunity to have conversions around the clock,” Reed said.

The retail world got its first sneak peek at this capability last summer when it was announced that Braintree was powering the payments for Pinterest’s launch of Buyable Pins. Sneak peek two came later in the year with the integration of Uber into Facebook Messenger.

“PayPal Commerce is the infrastructure that will enable retailers to deliver open, distributed commerce experiences. It provides services for partners to create a wide variety of contextual commerce experiences and tools for retailers to reach and engage consumers beyond the boundaries of their Web storefronts,” Reed explained.

Reed describes PayPal Commerce as a natural extension of what it has spent 17 years developing: a great experience for consumers that creates a great opportunity for merchants.

“There’s a reason this is called commerce. PayPal Commerce is really about giving merchants access to the building blocks and tools that can move commerce into the future,” Reed said.