When a man takes a woman out, he can’t simply go straight for the goods. She needs time. She needs to be romanced, she wants to learn more about him, she wants some proof points that he’s a good guy. There’s not really a shortcut. He has to seduce her to seal the deal.
So knowing this about women, why in the world so many social networks thought one-click buy buttons would be the next big ecommerce revolution, I’ll never know. Making checkout easy is one thing, but you can’t simply jump over so many steps in the consideration process and expect to make a sale.
There’s whole businesses built around ratings and reviews, user generated content reviews, and sizing information – all of these incrementally pushing customers toward a sale. Yet sites including Twitter, Wanelo, Instagram, and Pinterest all poured resources into the technology hoping that easing the path to purchase would result in big sales. Unfortunately for them, easy checkout is only part of the shopping equation.
First of all, understand that scaling one-click buy buttons isn’t easy. There’s the challenge of integrating with retailers’ ecommerce platforms, which can range from major providers like Demandware to hacked together legacy systems or custom built solutions. Then, retailers have to be on top of creating robust, up-to-date product feeds in order for their listings to be any good, and some still struggle with the technology. It’s a resources intensive mission for a social network to take on, and it opens a lot of new opportunities for security risks and customer service issues.
Make no mistake, there are certainly products for which one-click purchase can work, but for the most part people don’t just fall in love with products at first sight. Customers want to read reviews, see more photos, zoom in for details, find out about shipping, and comparison shop. Today’s consumer isn’t an idiot, and has realized that one-click impulse buys can result in some pretty crap purchases. In a study, only 35 percent of millennials said they were likely to use buy buttons on Facebook, and only 24 percent would use buy buttons on Twitter.
Finally, retailers shouldn’t cheat themselves with a channel that’s going to give them no opportunity to up-sell, will lower their cart size, and drag down their average order value. Because the customer is only buying one item, they’re likely paying full shipping and not even being pushed to hit a free ship threshold. Some of these one-click systems even cut out the exchange of the customer’s email or the ability to opt them into marketing. So not only have you lowered the amount of your sale, you’ve missed the opportunity to ever sell to them again.
The idea of the one-click checkout is good in spirit. Yes, social networks should definitely try to get users credit cards and make it seamless for them to purchase – but they need to also start to fill in other gaps in the sales process. At Wanelo, they’re starting to allow users to review product so they can have a database of reviews, but social networks could also potentially find a way to integrate in with systems like Bazaarvoice to track a retailer’s reviews directly into the social app.
These social networks actually even have some added advantages when it comes to the sales process. If a shopper is under a free shipping threshold, they could show them other items they’ve pinned and saved that would help them hit it, or suggest other frequently purchased items from the retailer.
Buy buttons aren’t a total flop, but social networks need to realize there’s no way to fast track the sales process, and their next innovations need to happen in the middle of the funnel.