01 Oct 2013
One of the biggest hurdles to the widespread adoption of mobile commerce is found in the checkout system. Asking your customers to enter huge amounts of credit card information on small form factor screens is a major usability issue, and shopping cart conversion rates for smartphones highlight the problem all too well. Facebook hopes to simplify the process using a new feature they're debuting called 'Autofill'. As many customers currently have embraced the mobile app version of Facebook, they are uniquely well-positioned to provide this sort of information in the smartphone sector.
Autofill is currently being tested with two up-and-coming retailers: JackThreads, a rising star in the e-commerce fashion sector, and Mosaic, a provider of high-quality photo books. Each retailer currently has a downloadable app which interfaces with the customer's Facebook app to automatically fill in all the billing and shipping details. As a 50% of JackThreads' $37 million in annual sales come from the mobile sector, and 90% of that business is conducted through its mobile app, they're in the perfect position to capitalise on the partnership.
The main hurdle to the widespread adoption of the Autofill feature is the number of customers who have currently stored their payment information with Facebook, as currently Facebook's Send a Gift feature is the only element of their site that requires it. It's not yet clear if information stored within the Ad Manager can be used for the Autofill feature, but the average Facebook user doesn't have an advertising account anyways.
They are also quick to assure customers and businesses alike that they are not in the market to become a mobile payments processor, but rather hope to work alongside Paypal and other more well-known and well-established leaders in the sector. Instead, Facebook's main benefit is adding to its database of demographic information, with the aim of providing even more relevant ads to its already impressively targeted userbase.
If the Autofill feature becomes a quick success, however, you can be sure that Paypal and other mobile payment processors who already have their own mobile apps will be close behind when it comes to cross-app integrations like this. No matter which provider grows to dominate the sector, it's clear that the mobile commerce space is heating up as more and more businesses embrace the sector, and as user feedback on usability helps iron out the wrinkles in mobile payment transactions.
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