In 2013, while at Avis Budget Group, one of my priorities was to improve the mobile web payflow. Making a car rental reservation isn’t as simple as adding a car to your shopping cart and checking out (i.e. Amazon.com). There were steps, lots of them. Six, in fact: What dates? What car? Which ancillaries? Want insurances? What’s your personal info? Ready to confirm?
I can remember thinking one of the best remedies would be one-touch purchase, with single sign-in to also prepopulate customer info. I spoke regularly to Google (Wallet), PayPal and MasterCard (they were just coming out with MasterPass) to try to achieve this. These companies even offered to help cover some of the development costs since mobile payment was at its infancy.
I submitted the strategic plans, sizing and ROI to the steering committee in December of that year, but left for my current role before anything got implemented. I checked this morning and Avis still doesn’t have an integration with a mobile payment provider. Guess the plan didn’t get approved — probably because there was no one there to sell it — but that’s a huge miss, in my opinion.
No matter where I go in my career, including today at The New York Times, optimizing the conversion funnel is always top of mind. As I show in a slide (above) during my speeches: Great marketing can’t overcome a bad conversion funnel. That means even if you have the most effective marketing campaigns, the results come at the bottom of the funnel, so the entire experience is critical.
Last summer, The Times integrated PayPal on mobile web. It’s definitely had a positive impact on conversion but there is still a lot of traction to make up in terms of getting anywhere close to the percentage we see on desktop web and mobile apps, especially now that traffic on those mediums has surpassed desktop. (I don’t think conversion on mobile web will ever be that of mobile apps, which basically prequalifies the audience by having to find, download — after entering your password since it always seems to need it — and launch it.)
You may have seen The New York Times logo on stage at WWDC with the announcement of Apple Pay for web. I can remember walking out of my first meeting with Apple about this, turning to the others and saying, “game changer.” Google came in two weeks later and I was sold there, as well.
Apple Pay and Google Payment for mobile web will allow brands to add the best functionality of app payment processing to their mobile website. With one tap of a button, the user’s personal and payment information appears on screen. A thumb scan later, the transaction is complete.
Why is paying on mobile web so painful today? A couple reasons:
1. Typing info into text fields isn’t easy and you are constantly hitting the delete button to fix your mistakes.
2. If your checkout process is anything but Amazon (their one-click purchase is as good as it gets; they also have the credit card info stored), you likely have to endure several screens from start to finish. Internet, server latency and time can impact even the best experiences.
3. Too many unnecessary fields. If you have a zip code field, don’t ask for my city and state. Prepopulate those fields automatically.
4. Pinch and zoom. Just because it fits on a mobile screen doesn’t mean it’s mobile optimized. Something also may look good on mobile. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be effective.
5. If you must ask for my phone number, please evoke the number keyboard. It’s as simple as adding type=“tel” to the form’s HTML.
6. Paying is painful. Pulling out your credit card in public feels awkward. Having to hold the card in one hand, or putting it on your lap, to enter the 16-digit number, expiration date (do you want it formatted 12/12 or 12/2012; don’t make me have to enter the slash) and a three-digit code takes longer than it took me to write this paragraph.
All of those hurdles become a thing of the past with Apple and Google’s upcoming solutions. What these companies are basically saying is we have the contact and payment info from each user — the browser will authentic the user as having an associated account. If you want it, you just have to ask. Think of Apple and Google as information providers and not payment services. They just pass the info to the merchant, who then processes the transaction.
Unlike the 30% fee within apps, Apple and Google don’t charge merchants a fee to use their technology. The fraction of a percent of all transactions instead comes from the credit card companies. This makes it even more appealing.
The one roadblock, however, is user adoption. I say that knowing that no matter what payment service someone uses, adoption is key. PayPal, Amazon, and even traditional credit cards, all require “memberships.”
Apple will require an Apple Pay account, which is different than an iTunes account — this is what should be prioritized next. Google, however, says they’ll use credit cards linked to both Google Wallet and Play. Both companies won’t divulge audience sizes but that doesn’t mean they are going to be small.
A study in February 2016 of iPhone 6 users reported 20 percent having used Apple Pay. Fifteen percent used Apple Pay as a form of payment regularly. Even if we take the 74.5m number of iPhones sold the last fiscal year, that’s 26.8m prospective Apple Pay users. With Apple Pay going to be enabled on iOS 10 for phones 6 and above, we’re looking at a substantially larger number, even with it only available in the United States, Canada, Australia, China and Singapore — European countries are next.
Google and Apple own the mobile (and tablet) hardware markets. These were the two companies that could do something about e-commerce challenges on mobile web. Adoption from brands is going to be significant. Now let’s just hope the results are, as well.
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