How Facebook and Amazon's New Features Will Impact Online Retailers
Brands and businesses across the digital marketplace are heavily influenced by the actions of internet titans like Amazon.com and Facebook. The recent launch of a new feature by Facebook is more than just another online convenience, however. It's a development that could signal a shift in the way online retailers interact with consumers.
Facebook's Autofill is a free tool that offers integration opportunities to Facebook's 450,000 merchants, enabling consumers to pull billing, payment and shipping information they've stored on Facebook into transactions. In effect, Autofill gives Facebook the ability to deliver one-click purchase capabilities to its users.
Autofill also enables Facebook to capture additional data about what users buy and where they buy it. The goal is to establish direct correlations between Autofill data and ad data, allowing Facebook to show how specific ads and marketing tools generate return on investment for advertisers. Armed with this information, the social network hopes it will be able to leverage Autofill for increased ad revenue.
Facebook isn't the only big player interested in reshaping the online purchase process. Amazon recently released a feature that allows users to add items to their shopping carts via Twitter. Users respond to tweets featuring Amazon product links with the hashtag #AmazonCart. Like Autofill, this feature is simple, easy and seamless — characteristics that are increasingly defining the leaders in the online consumer marketplace.
What Autofill and #AmazonCart Mean for Online Retailers
One of the big takeaways of Autofill with Facebook and #AmazonCart is that consumers are still firmly in the driver's seat when it comes to e-commerce innovation. The push for new features and capabilities is directed toward making it easier and more convenient for consumers to interact with online brands and ad platforms, but in ways that inevitably benefit the brands and platforms themselves. Those include the following:
- Seamless customer experiences: The emergence of Autofill and other features is partially a response to the demand for more seamless customer experiences. Consumers don't want to switch between applications or cut and paste purchase info from one site to the next; they want brands and advertising platforms to provide a single, unified customer experience. So for online retailers, it's important to deliver not only a high-quality customer experience, but also one that enables seamless transitions across all channels.
- Streamlined purchase processes: Consumers want hassle-free purchase and checkout experiences, regardless of whether they're shopping online or in-store. Consumers have more choices than ever and have no qualms about abandoning carts if the checkout process is too cumbersome. Autofill and #AmazonCart reduce the purchase process to a single click. To remain competitive, online retailers need to evaluate their online checkout requirements and implement strategies to make them faster, smoother and more convenient.
- Data, data, data: Although the launch of Autofill, #AmazonCart and similar features are primarily customer-facing developments, it's important to note that these features create new opportunities to capture the holy grail of e-commerce: customer data. At a minimum, the release of Autofill should be a reminder that online retailers need to consider how they're using (or not using) customer data for business advantage.
Autofill and #AmazonCart are the tip of a rather large iceberg in e-commerce — i.e., the development of truly effortless shopping and purchasing experiences. By strategically evaluating the seamlessness and convenience of the customer experience now, online retailers can position themselves to stay ahead of the curve in the months and years ahead.
Rick Chavie is the chief solution officer at hybris, a software company that sells enterprise multichannel e-commerce and product content management software. Rick can be reached at email@example.com.