In-app buying made easy

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As holiday shopping nears, retailers and technology providers are launching new mobile features at a fast and furious pace. The latest, a new mobile API from Stripe, promises to enable in-app shopping.

Mobile devices now represent roughly 60 percent of browsing traffic for retailers, but just 15 percent of purchases, according to Stripe. And while many begin the shopping journey on a smartphone, many more are still heading to the computer to complete the process.

Native mobile apps that let users transact quickly, store payment information, and remember user preferences are costly to build. Stripe's mobile commerce system called Relay provides a quicker path to fulfilling these features, according to the company. Stripe is a payment platform that competes with the likes of PayPal and Square, and Relay is the feature aimed at extending its reach into mobile payments.

Relay enables instant purchases on third-party apps and social media sites.

Retailers can provide product information to Stripe through the dashboard, the API, or by linking an existing e-commerce system. The technology does the rest. Stripe has partnered with SAP and SAP Hybris (used by retailers including Levi's, Oakley and Ted Baker) is the first such integration. Warby Parker, Saks Fifth Ave and Wish are also on board to sell products on participating third party sites including Twitter, Shopstyle and Spring, AdWeek reported.

Warby Parker has enabled the feature on Twitter with a buy button.


The eyeglass retailer simply tweets out a product, like these Downing sunglasses in English Oak. At the click of the buy button, a tweet pops up with the price and more information. There's a drop down menu to select the item by gender. Once identified, another tweet appears with a gender appropriate photo and a "buy now" button.

Another click and the user is taken to the payment stage, formatted as a tweet, and can complete the process without ever leaving Twitter.


Relay will also work with third-party apps such as ShopStyle, whittling down the payment process to a single step.

"If our customer buys something from Target, Saks, and Old Navy, they would have to enter their transaction data three times," said Anna Fieler, exec-VP of marketing at PopSugar, which owns ShopStyle. "With Relay, it would be just a few taps."
 
Stripe cofounder and CEO Patrick Collison noted during the Relay launch Monday that Stripe works with other social media sites, including Facebook. Facebook looked at using an earlier version of the Stripe API in its newsfeed, according to MIT Technology Review.

The promise of the buy button is enticing to retailers and payment providers. Stripe collects 2.9 percent of the payment and 30 cents on each transaction—so tapping into the Facebook user base of 1.5 billion represents an enormous business opportunity for payment providers. Visa is an investor in Stripe and was part of a $100 million round of financing this summer. Stripe is now valued at $5 billion, MIT Technology Review reported.

For more:
-See this Stripe announcement
-See this AdWeek story
-See this article in MIT Technology Review

Related stories:
The buy button arrives: How social media shopping will change retail
Social media 'buy' buttons to change e-commerce game for retailers
Facebook expands 'Buy' button beta testing
Google draws closer to buy button
Pinterest to release buy button this year

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