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ARTICLE TechnologyMarch 21, 2016

The growth of touch commerce

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Picture this. You have a potential customer browsing your website on their phone while they’re lying on the couch or waiting for the train. They see something they like and decide to buy it. At the checkout page, they take a quick look at the form for shipping information and credit card details. Suddenly it feels like too much effort to try to type everything in correctly on such a small device.

So they leave the page or app and move on to look at Instagram. Maybe they’ll go back and complete the purchase at their desktop, or maybe they won’t. The moment and the desire might have passed. 

Deloitte research reported in the Sydney Morning Herald says about a third of Australians browse shopping sites and apps on their phones at least once a week – but less than 9 per cent of those who make it to the checkout form actually complete the order. Shopping cart abandonment has long been a frustrating phenomenon for online retailers, and the trend towards mobile browsing adds an interesting problem to the mix. More and more traffic is coming from mobiles rather than desktops, but it’s resulting in fewer transactions.

Keegan Bakker, Director of Melbourne e-commerce agency Greenhouse, says this challenge points to a need to streamline mobile checkout processes. “Consumers love browsing and discovering products on their mobile devices, but then jump on their laptop or desktop computer to actually finalise their purchases,” he says.

“The main reason for this is difficult checkout processes: for example, entering all your credit card info on a mobile screen can be tricky.”

Touch-based payment: how it works

One solution may be in the rise of touch commerce, a technology that is set to take off in Australia this year, according to Deloitte’s 2016 Technology, Media and Telecommunications predictions

Designed to simplify and speed up the mobile checkout process, touch-based payment allows consumers to complete a purchase by tapping a fingerprint scanner, using a pattern of screen touches or entering a PIN code.

This process is currently being rolled out by a number of third-party services such Apple Pay, Android Pay, Mastercard’s MasterPass and Visa Checkout. And Deloitte predicts that by the end of the year, about 50 million people worldwide will be regular users.

Bakker agrees that Australian consumers will be quick to adopt this trend. “So much exciting innovation is happening in e-commerce right now. As soon as a few online retailers start rolling out this type of technology, consumers are going to start demanding it, which will drive adoption,” he says.

“There are only a handful of platforms that really offer ‘out-of-the-box’ touch commerce solutions at the moment, but I definitely expect that to grow significantly this year.”

The benefits of touch payment

For consumers, touch commerce provides two big benefits: convenience and security.

“Touch commerce is making online shopping much easier, but it also means that you don’t need to give your credit card details to every online retailer you purchase from,” Bakker says. “Instead, all your info is stored by third-party services like Apple Pay.”

And for businesses, it’s definitely good news, too.

“For retailers, it’s all about conversions. Making the checkout process as simple as possible reduces cart abandonment and boosts sales, particularly on mobile devices.”

One thing for online retailers to keep in mind, however, is the need to make consumers feel safe using this new technology. 

“Security is always an issue with any type of payment technology. Consumers in particular are always more cautious of new technology when it concerns their money,” Bakker says.

“If you’re an online retailer thinking about touch commerce, make sure you really understand how it works so you can communicate that clearly to your customers and answer their questions.”

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