Image Source: The Verge
With Apple’s recent release of the developer preview of iOS 8, reports have begun surfacing about previously unannounced features in the operating system. These features are numerous – including both competitive differentiators and small iterations on existing features.
However, there is one particular gem that is likely to change the mobile shopping landscape for online retailers.
Apple has included a feature that will streamline the mobile checkout process by allowing customers to take a snapshot of their credit card instead of manually inputting card information. Since tasks that require manual data input are often the biggest source of goal abandonment on mobile devices, Apple has just solved a major problem for all online retailers.
And the best news? This feature should be automatically enabled with the release of the new operating system in September this year – no integration required.
What This Feature Means for Online Retailers
Any e-commerce manager, director or VP could probably bring their website conversion rate to mind in a split second – it’s a number that can make or break the success of a website, a marketing campaign, and potentially a career. The thorn in the side of every leader in an e-commerce function is the mobile conversion rate, and in particular, the smartphone-specific rate.
Typically ranging between 10-30% of the desktop conversion rates, the smartphone conversion rate is notoriously low, and can be difficult to address without advanced expertise in mobile UX and adequate resources, neither of which come easy in today’s lean operating environments.
It is for this reason that Apple’s recent feature-inclusion will be a game-changer for online retailers. One key issue cited for the distinct underperformance of smartphones as a mobile checkout device is the frustration involved with inputting payment information.
While pundits forecast the mobile payment future and bloggers meticulously track different payment technologies, the daily reality for e-commerce companies is that this is on the long-term horizon – compared to the daily, weekly and monthly targets they’re working to.
As everyone waits for the mobile payment ecosystem to develop, diversify and then mature, e-commerce leaders are struggling to keep up with growth targets, and face increasing pressure to squeeze every last dollar out of marketing and resourcing efforts, at times needing to find very innovative and creative ways to achieve goals.
Apple’s decision to build a credit card entry system that makes card entry as easy as snapping a picture means that one of the key barriers to checking out with a smartphone has just been removed. And while startups and payments companies tackle these problems through APIs, complex integrations and less robust solutions, Apple has gone straight to the heart of the issue, and created the solution directly in the web browser.
The result is a notably upgraded mobile checkout for every customer on every e-commerce website. Even more incredibly, early reports suggest that there is no integration work required for a website to work with the new system. Safari itself detects credit card entry fields, and proactively offers the user the ability to enter the card information by photograph, launching the camera, along with a slick interface that helps the user line up the card.
Like Apple's new 'Continuity' features, our prediction is that this new credit card scanning feature will have a direct impact on mobile conversion rates, due to the reduced payment friction. It is too early to say what the magnitude will be – it is likely to change according to the demographics of shoppers on different sites.
Nonetheless, we are very pleased to see this development, as it supports our mission of providing exceptional mobile shopping experiences, and it’s not often that an e-commerce team gets a boost in conversions without having to research, resource and deploy a new initiative, promotion or feature on their website.
Though reports are early at this stage, we are currently testing this functionality and will release further information as it becomes known. The certainty to this change is clear - Apple has its mind on mobile shopping, and as many e-commerce directors know, iOS devices have the lion’s sharing of mobile shopping activity on most of the largest e-commerce sites in North America.
To this end, we expect to see accelerated growth in mobile shopping, and the timing couldn’t be better for retailers preparing their strategy for this year’s Black Friday and holiday shopping season.