Buried in Apple's announcements at their 2016 Worldwide Developer Conference was a nugget of interest to anyone to has an ecommerce site: Apple Pay would soon be possible as a payment method on ecommerce websites.
Up until this point, Apple Pay has only been possible for in-store purchases using the latest iPhones and/or Apple Watch or for purchases in-app. With their newly-released API, the possibility of integrating Apple Pay directly into ecommerce websites is here and the implications are huge, especially for sites with high mobile traffic.
Why? The more clumsy the check-out experience, the greater likelihood a company will lose the sale. The most influential factor in how streamlined an ecommerce transaction feels is the design of the check-out experience ‚ and it's hard to get right. This is the reason that mobile ecommerce conversion rates are a paltry 1.43% here in the US, which is one-third of what they are on desktop (source: Monetate Ecommerce Quarterly, 2016).
However, close behind that is the inconvenience of having to dig out a credit card mid-check-out to complete the sale. While the customer is locating their credit card they have the opportunity to change their mind about the purchase, feel insecure about entering their credit card information, become frustrated while entering it, be annoyed at having to locate their wallet, accidentally navigate away from the site, or become distracted by any other number of things on or off the phone. Removing this credit-card halt in the check-out process can vastly improve the purchase experience, and could have big implications for it's possible positive impact on sales.
Quick and Easy Mobile Payments: Solving the Last Mile Problem
The push to better mobile optimized (and, to a lesser extent, tablet) experiences has been critical and challenging for brands everywhere. There is an almost constant need to stay abreast of trends in login technology and functionality to keep up with a growing array of devices ‚ nevermind the potential impact on SEO. Convincing companies to make a significant investment to improve their mobile ecommerce experiences, though, has been a challenge given the meager conversion metrics and the sometimes-significant effort in making a site work effectively on mobile.
Solving for the last mile — getting people to actually finish transactions on their mobile devices — has been the problem. There just hasn't been anything making the process of entering your personal and credit card information especially easy.
According to Apple, Apple Pay for websites will be just that...easy.
For the 700-800 credit cards on file with Apple, it will be as simple as clicking an Apple Pay button at checkout on a site that supports it. Because Apple Pay leverages the Passbook app on your phone and is connected to your iTunes account, all your info is stored securely and is accessible with Apple's built-in Touch ID fingerprint identification. What amounts to a one-click checkout will encourage reluctant shoppers and undoubtedly lead to increases in the number of folks who convert.
Apple Pay for Ecommerce Rollout
Apple just released the API documentation for how to integrate Apple Pay into ecommerce sites going forward, but it will be 3-5 months before we're seeing any widespread use of it. It certainly won't be a one-click install for most, but will have widespread support from a wide array of payment gateways.
Shopify is one of the early adopters and will be rolling it out Fall 2016 to its nearly 300,000 merchants as a one-click install and will support their in-house payment gateway, as well as Stripe, Braintree, FirstData Payeezy, Authorize.Net, and CyberSource.
Not everyone will be able to take advantage of Apple Pay immediately. Use of the technology will be limited to devices running iOS 10 or macOS Sierra and using the Safari web browser. Requiring Safari seems like a potential deal-breaker for anything expecting widespread rollout across devices, but it's obvious the focus here is primarily on mobile devices.
While Apple Safari only represents 4% of overall desktop traffic, it accounts for 55% of all mobile traffic and accounts for 85% of all traffic from iOS devices (source: StatCounter).
The potential benefit of enabling what is essentially a one-click payment solution for everyone who owns an iOS device is significant and will lead to adoption rates much higher than other competing solutions (Amazon and Google, I'm looking at you) that have struggled to gain significant traction in the wider ecommerce world.
A Peek Into Implementing Apple Pay on Your Ecommerce Site
Support for Apple Pay via open-source ecommerce and CMS platforms like Magento, Wordpress, and ExpressionEngine will eventually be widespread once folks start integrating it regularly. For hosted platforms like Demandware and Shopify, it'll be available for all their merchants nearly immediately once they support Apple Pay later in 2016.
As folks start integrating Apple Pay into their sites, regardless of what platform they're on, it will also be important to consider where in the conversion flow it should go. While it'll be necessary to include Apple Pay at the cart/checkout steps, there are also opportunities for promoting it upstream in the mobile conversion flow, such as on the homepage or product detail pages.
There's a decade-long history of poor mobile experiences out there and it'll take time for folks to retrain themselves and look out for Apple Pay before otherwise deciding to bail and [maybe] come back on their desktop device.
Final Thoughts on Apple Pay
The introduction of Apple Pay support for ecommerce sites in 2016 is going to be a big deal for a wide diversity of merchant businesses out there. For new customers or existing ones who don't know and/or want to remember their account login details the widespread adoption of a quick and easy mobile payment solution will redefine what it means to have an effective mobile-optimized ecommerce experience.
At GRAYBOX, we are following the Apple Pay rollout and will look forward sinking our collective teeth into rolling it out for clients in 2016 and beyond.