Stripe Launches Relay For Mobile Commerce

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Stripe just announced the launch of Relay, a new tool to help e-commerce stores sell more via mobile devices.

What is Stripe Relay?

From their announcement:

Today, mobile e-commerce websites aren’t working: Ten-step shopping carts, mandatory account signup, slow page loads. When we get linked to a shopping cart on our phone, we usually just give up. That shouldn’t be surprising—most mobile shopping sites are fundamentally the same as the desktop sites that preceded them, despite the medium calling for something completely different.

Stripe Relay is looking to fill this need by making it easier to sell e-commerce to mobile users.

We’re launching Relay, an API for stores to publish their products, and for apps to read them. Relay makes it easier for developers to build great mobile e-commerce experiences, and for stores to participate in them.

How does Stripe Relay work?

It’s powered by a few new objects in the Stripe API: Products, SKUs (product variants), and Orders. Stores can provide product information to Stripe via the dashboard, the API, or by linking their existing e-commerce systems.

In a nutshell, the Relay integration works like this:

  1. You link up your store’s inventory with Stripe via the dashboard, API or the (currently limited to SAP Hybris) e-commerce integration.
  2. Developers, such as Twitter, build direct e-commerce integrations with your products so users can buy products directly without leaving the referring site.
  3. Profit!

Stripe Relay In Action

You can see a sample Stripe Relay integration in action via this Warby Parker tweet on Twitter

The user is presented with a BUY button in place within the Tweet:

Stripe Relay Twitter Buy

When you click the BUY button, you are presented with a modal pop-up that allows you to choose your options (e.g. – Mens, Womens) and see more details such as description, shipping and return info:

Stripe Relay buy step 1

You can even enter your credit card information on the next screen without ever leaving Twitter:

Stripe Relay Buy Step 2

Should you consider Stripe Relay for your store?

According to the Stripe Relay announcement:

Despite mobile devices representing 60% of browsing traffic for shopping sites, they only make up 15% of purchases.

This is a pretty compelling reason to consider another approach to capture mobile transactions. Is Stripe Relay the answer to this? Only time will tell.

What are the possible downsides to using Stripe Relay?

Here are a few possible downsides to using something like Stripe Relay to process transactions for your e-commerce store:

  • The available inventory total is likely to be out of sync, especially in high volume stores. This will likely result in over-selling during peak buying times given the delay in updating Stripe with the correct values.
  • You are required to process these transactions through Stripe. If you are already using Stripe to process payments, this may not be a huge downside.
  • Stripe Relay is primarily geared toward single item purchases. As a result, it currently lacks support for ordering multiple items, offering recommendations or product upsells.
  • There may be possible customer support issues since the order is completely captured on another website. I know personally this type of confusion is likely given how many people mistake my t-shirt search engine, Teenormous, as the merchant of record even though it fully redirects to the merchant site for each sale.

Other options in the mobile commerce space

Here are a few other players in this space that may be worth a look:

Also, there have been a slew of recent announcements by other big players in this space:

Summary

Stripe Relay may allow you to expand your reach via third-party developers and platforms, as well as provide a more natural, battle-tested way to capture e-commerce transactions.

There is a lot of movement happening in this space so for some merchants, it may make sense to wait and see where the dust settles.

However, where there is change there may be opportunity to capture some sales by being an early adopter within a new medium.

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