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Ecommerce Stripe

What is Stripe’s Relay and why should retailers care?


By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

September 15, 2015 | 3 min read

Stripe’s roll out of Relay will allow retailers for the first to enable instant purchases within any third party app or social network giving the shift towards ‘social commerce’ yet another boost.

The likes of Land Rover, Mondelez and Pernod Ricard have experimented with ‘buy now’ buttons on social networks but have been tied to the tools offered by the likes of YouTube (TrueView) and Facebook (which comes through a deal with Shopify).

Stripe does already partner with these sites to process their payments, but with Relay it wants to give brands what is describes as a “universal sell button” that will allow them to sell across any number of different apps and social networks.

Crucially, customers will be able to complete the process within the native environment as the buttons connect directly to a retailer’s inventory and order management systems and keep users in the app for the entire transaction.

This last point is the crux of why Stripe believes Relay will be successful. Mobile devices represent 60 per cent of browsing traffic for shopping sites, according to the advertising platform, but only make up 15 per cent of purchases. Meanwhile, according to a separate study by SaleCycle, online cart abandonment reached 76 per cent during Q1 2015 (out of a survey of 500 global brands).

Stripe engineer Siddarth Chandrasekaran said in a blog post that this shows, across the board, e-commerce websites simply aren’t working.

However, buy buttons within apps and social networks is not new; Twitter, and Pinterest have been trying to lift their offerings off the ground for the past year. Making it work has proved problematic and time-consuming and only feasible for larger retailers which have to custom build the integration.

Relay’s solution promises to do the heavy lifting by simply asking retailers to serve up product information via the dashboard, the API, or by linking their existing e-commerce systems.

Initial launch partners include American retailers Warby Parker and Saks Fifth Avenue but the new options could prove particularly attractive for brands in the UK.

The m-commerce sector in Britain is currently worth £9.7bn but is set to grow to £53.6bn by 2024, according to Conlumino. With spend through smartphones expected to increase by 243.5 per cent in the next four years, coupled with an increasing amount of time spent within social networks and app, retailers are under increasing pressure to find a solution that enables seamless one-click payments wherever a consumer might be.

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