Two and a half months ago, PayPal launched Smart Buttons in the U.S. as a way to improve the checkout experience for both merchants and consumers.
PayPal made its “Buy Button” smarter by dynamically presenting consumers with the most relevant payment method at checkout — saving them time. Smart Buttons also gave merchants more of an opportunity to capture a sale by tailoring the checkout experience around the consumer’s preferred way to pay.
Today, Smart Buttons is going global. This follows PayPal’s launch last week of Funds Now, a service that puts money instantly into the bank account of a merchant following a sale.
PayPal COO Bill Ready told Karen Webster in an interview on the eve of the rollout that consumers will have the option to pay with PayPal’s in-house methods: PayPal, Venmo, PayPal Credit — but also local alternative payment methods best and most suited to the needs of the consumers who want them.
For instance, customers in the Netherlands will see iDEAL as a method, while Italian consumers are shown MyBank.
Ready stated that PayPal makes it easy for consumers to pay the way they want. For merchants, the company makes those choices possible without Nascar-izing their checkout page with payment options that aren’t relevant to consumers at checkout.
That alone is a significant upgrade: Friction during the online checkout process is a sales killer. A quick glance at the PYMNTS Checkout Conversion Index bears this out: $236 billion a year in potential sales is shifted away from merchants that introduce too much friction at checkout to those that don’t.
But the vision for merchants and consumers who come together online to do business is bigger, Ready said, because Smart Buttons is shipping out with the broader array of PayPal services — Smart Incentives and Marketing Solutions — giving PayPal merchant partners a toolbox of solutions to increase conversions.
“A major part of the democratization of payments is giving retailers anywhere of any size the tools they need to compete in a rapidly digitizing world — tools they can access in a very simple way,” Ready told Webster. “We want to do as much as we can to help merchants connect with our 250 million-plus users all over the world.”
Ready noted the initial rollout of Smart Buttons in the U.S. has already seen traction with consumers and merchants from its initial rollout of Smart Buttons in the U.S. Consumers want to be given the right payment options, he said, explaining tongue-in-cheek that they don’t want to have to use a magnifying glass to hunt for options on a Nascar-ized checkout page.
Feedback from merchants, he said, has also been positive, particularly since activating Smart Buttons only requires adding a few lines of code to their checkout flow, instead of time-consuming and costly integrations.
Showing The Right Thing At The Right Time
Ready said part of making checkout smarter is making checking in to a merchant’s site simple and easy. A consumer landing on a PayPal One Touch-enabled site can skip website check-in and be presented with a number of options PayPal hopes will make their shopping experience more valuable, including offers for financing using PayPal Credit and free return shipping costs on eligible purchases, along with PayPal Purchase Protection.
The goal, Ready said, is to help merchants engage with consumers the moment they hit the home page, even improving the odds they will purchase more items than the one that might have directed them to that merchant initially. Ready said it’s something merchants have found valuable too: Instead of showing consumers their payment and financing options at the last possible moment in the transaction, those options are transparent to consumers as soon as they hit the homepage.
“A consumer who knows they are going to have financing available is likely to purchase more and leave with a bigger basket size than one who only finds out about financing at the last minute,” Ready remarked. “Wrapping this around Smart Buttons is taking the experience for consumers and merchants well beyond just ‘checking out.’”
Ready told Webster that PayPal’s Smart Incentives and Marketing Solutions are drawn from the insights of the 250 million consumers who interact with merchants every day and have over many years. It’s a treasure trove of insights, he said, that only a few retailers have. Ready explained that part of PayPal’s commitment to democratizing commerce is sharing those anonymized insights about browsers, buyers and categories of shoppers so merchants can optimize their online and mobile experiences to capture more sales and even offer them incentives and promotions to improve the odds they will make a sale.
“There’s been a lot of discussion about the benefits of digitization, eCommerce and mobile,” Ready remarked, “but many of us worry that those benefits have not been evenly distributed.”
Smart Buttons, Smart Incentives and Marketing Solutions are an effort to level that playing field without a heavy technological lift, coupled with the opportunity to drive their 250 million active consumers their way.
Despite the progress, Ready said, there’s still more work to be done. Integrating store-branded cards as a payment option into the flow is on the roadmap, and global rollouts are complex. But, Ready noted, the push to get all these merchant services into the market lets them do for their partners and their customers something they hope will help both groups move forward together.
“Making it so that in a few lines of code any business of any size [can] have access to a whole host of services that only a few massive players have ever had — we think [it] will be a big step forward,” Ready said. “It is very different than what has been done in the market before.”