04 March 2015
With the mainstreaming of virtual wallets like Apple Pay and Google Wallet, to the debut of buy buttons on Twitter and Facebook, ‘native commerce’ may soon become a household phrase and make the shopping cart model obsolete.
This year, virtual payments are predicted go through a major overhaul across all platforms and devices, from social media to mobile and wearable technology. That’s right: payments are becoming trendy, and that’s music to the ears of ecommerce sellers. With the mainstreaming of virtual wallets like Apple Pay and Google Wallet, to the debut of buy buttons on Twitter and Facebook, ‘native commerce’ may soon become a household phrase and make the shopping cart model obsolete.
The ‘native commerce’ model entails virtually storing payment information (Google Wallet, Paypal, etc) which is instantly summoned when a user makes a purchase. It forgoes shopping carts and checkouts altogether in exchange for the simple “Buy” button used for each individual purchase.
Innovators sing the praises of this continuous user experience, which blurs segregation of content and commerce, leaving behind outdated notions of internet-real world equivalence. But at this advanced stage in the ecommerce game, it is also smart to weigh the pros and cons of abandoning the traditional shopping cart model for your ecustomers.
Pro: Native ecommerce, with its Virtual wallets, is safer and more convenient than plastic.
Nobody likes reaching for their wallet every time they make an online purchase. With stored payment information, virtual wallets make this conversion-killing inconvenience a thing of the past. Though it might seem like credit card information would be less safe in the (hackable) cloud, virtual wallets are actually safer than plastic. In native ecommerce, virtual transactions use unique “token” numbers generated for each individual transaction, thus never revealing the actual card or account number.
Con: Virtual wallets are a tough (and confusing) sell for users.
Despite their convenience, users might be wary of virtual wallets because of perceived security concerns. Additionally, there are a growing number of options for virtual payments—Google Wallet, Apple Pay, PayPal, Softcard—each with their own strengths and weaknesses (for example, some wallets are better adapted to mobile, while others work better on laptop browsers). Though PayPal is a familiar option for many internet users, virtual payment tools are still far from being mainstream, so it will be an uphill battle for native ecommerce to convince customers to adopt automatic payments.
Pro: Payment methods that are streamlined for the internet.
Adding items to a cart and proceeding to checkout may be the familiar way of purchasing for brick-and-mortar customers, but online carts have a tendency to add unnecessary steps to the simple buying process. Native commerce is designed specifically for internet usage and is less clunky than the shopping cart model.
Con: Shopping carts and checkouts are familiar.
Virtual shopping carts are as old as ecommerce itself, and anyone who has ever purchased from a store can understand the cart-based system. Spontaneous virtual payments can be scary territory for consumers who are already in the habit of adding to carts and checking out online.
Furthermore, the shopping cart model encourages multiple-item purchases through special offers like free shipping. The jury is still out on whether individual-item buy buttons of native ecommerce will be convenient enough to make up for the extra revenue generated by cart-based special offers.
Pro: Buying in-stream.
Native ecommerce offers frictionless buying for users browsing the internet. It provides a vital bridge between content and ecommerce, whether it’s on social media or a main website. Like the more common practice of native advertising, native commerce places the right product in the right place at the right time, showing customers the products they are already interested in. A user can purchase something online without having to completely drop what they’re doing and redirect to an ecommerce catalog site, which may completely alter the way conversions are made online.
Con: The potential to drive people away from social media.
There is a huge question mark hanging over native ecommerce beyond the shopping cart challenge. There will likely be unforeseen consequences of this marked change in the way sales are executed online, which could in turn affect the way we interact with social media. Just as the introduction of ads to any formerly ad-free social media platform seems to diminish the “cool” factor, the unsolicited pressure to buy things could cause some people to turn away from social media. People love to online shop, but they might not appreciate being sold to when they’re just browsing for information. Depending on your customer base and product, you’ll have to discover the fine line between convenience and bad taste.
Does all of this mean that shopping cart ecommerce will be obsolete? Very unlikely. Brick and mortar stores weren’t made obsolete by ecommerce—it simply added another convenient buying channel. This will likely be the same for native commerce: innovation that opens up yet another convenient way of getting the things we want and need.