Why Social Media Can Change The Way You Shop Online – Stripe

Online payments leader reveals Relay, the ‘universal buying button for the Internet’, and hails the UK’s strong ecommerce growth

Buying items online may be about to get a lot easier thanks to the launch of a new system that will allow customers to shop directly from their social media feeds.

Online payments titan Stripe has announced the launch of its new Relay service, which lets retailers embed purchasing options directly into sites such as Facebook and Twitter, connecting then closer to their customers than ever before.

Aiming to create, “a seamless buying experience”, Relay, which is now live in all the 21 countries Stripe operates in, is the next step towards expanding the value of both social media and online retail, the company’s head of UK growth, James Allgrove, told TechWeekEurope.

Going for gold

relay stripe“We’ve been working with a lot of social platforms for a while, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest,” said Allgrove, “and one big opportunity we realised is powering the commerce through these social platforms – rather than the current experience, where you are redirected away to a different page…which often isn’t a great customer experience.”

Many retailers are ‘really excited’ to sell directly on social media sites, Allgrove says, but there are a multitude of issues in getting everything together to work seamlessly, many of which originate from how orders are managed on the retailers side.

This is where Relay (pictured left) comes in, acting as an extension to the company’s APIs which goes beyond core payments into more general commerce to allow the kind of social commerce that Stripe is looking to build out.

This simplification allows retailers to move the initial customer point of discovery closer to the point of purchase, when buyers fully commit to the transaction.

“At the moment, these two are fairly disconnected,” Allgrove says, “you see something that you want to buy, but actually buying it is a whole new purpose, new website, new step…we believe (Relay) will unleash a lot of innovation in how people are buying and create a whole new channel on social platforms in the same way that mobile has done versus web-based buying”

“We think of it as a universal buying button for the Internet…it unleashes a lot more than just the pure social commerce,” Allgrove says.

“It’s really exciting to be shifting how people are buying, and to see what that does to their habits.”

British growth

james-allgrove stripeRelay will also help encourage the UK’s growing love of ecommerce, part of the reason behind the country becoming Stripe’s second largest market behind the United States.

“The UK is a great market for us,” Allgrove (pictured right) notes, “the UK is really advanced in the adoption of new technology, online spend per head is the highest in the world.”

The UK’s growth has also been boosted by the smaller domestic market compared to the US, as ambitious companies look to go international more quickly. Stripe is helping power start-ups all over the country to expand outside of the UK, with Allgrove mentioned the likes of courier service Deliveroo, which uses the company to simplify dealing in different currencies when expanding abroad.

And this innovation will only continue going forward, he believes, as more retailers embrace mobile technology to appeal to consumers.

“Mobile has the potential to really blur the lines between online and offline buying experiences,” Allgrove says, noting the example of Made.com, which has launched on the high street as one of several companies making the leap.

“I think we’ll see a lot more cool stuff (in the future),” he says, “we’ve already got a bunch of mobile-only and mobile-first businesses, and there’s a lot of companies that are going into mobile and having good success.”

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