September 15, 2015
Stripe, a California-based online payments company, has brought some relief to retailers by introducing Relay, an API for stores. Relay is an API for retailers to publish their products and for apps to read them. Prior to this, many retailers and FinTech companies—like American Express and Amazon—have tried selling their products through social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, but the practice was not successful as the companies failed to provide a seamless experience to their customers.
So what is the problem?
Imagine you are surfing the net on your mobile and saw a very classy and elegant pair of sunglasses, and decide to buy it. You click on the product and are redirected to the merchant’s site which is followed by signing up for the retailer, creating an account, putting up your address and entering credit cards details. With pain, you reach the checkout page and are about to enter your password when your connection gets timed out.
Most of the readers will agree that this has been the case with them most of the time. This is one of the disadvantages of mobile e-commerce which results in loss of revenue for retailers. According to a study, mobile devices represent 60% of browsing traffic for shopping sites, but they only make up 15% of purchases.
What is Relay? How is it helpful for retailers?
Relay makes it easier for developers to build great mobile e-commerce experiences, and for stores to participate in them. With the help of this API, the customers can buy anything that they like during browsing social media sites, websites and apps by just clicking on the buy button that has been integrated within the posts, tweets or apps along with the product. Customers can easily buy the products directly from within the app rather than being redirected to the merchant/third-party site.
Retailers can add products to their Stripe account and connect to any number of apps—social media platforms like Twitter or mobile shopping apps. The app can be used to promote the products, handle the ordering process and even securely accept payment on the retailer’s behalf. Twitter is one of the launch partners of Relay. Retailers can sell and market their products on the social media site. Along with twitter, relay gives the option of selling on apps like ShopStyle, Spring and via Inmobi’s platform.
The payment company recently raised more than $100 million of funding with Visa being the main investor along with investors such as VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and existing investors such as Sequoia Capital and The American Express Co.
It will be interesting to watch if this new innovation from Stripe would be able to provide the experience promised to the retailers & customers and if other social media sites and apps would also be interested in integrating the API apart from Twitter.
Stripe is headquartered in San Francisco and has over 210 employees working for the company. It was founded by Irish brothers Patrick and John Collison. Stripe focuses on providing the technical, fraud prevention and banking infrastructure required to operate online payment systems. Stripe is available for business in about 20 countries with a few countries in private beta phase. For more information, click here.