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Amazon’s patent on one-click buying has expired


We’re all familiar with the rush accompanying the realization you have to do no extra work to check out your cartload of goodies. After all, the more convenient the transaction is to complete, the more likely you are to complete it—and shop that store in the future.

Amazon took this idea to an extreme when it patented a process back in 1999 to make it possible to buy online with a single click. Customers enter their billing and shipping information the first time they check out and it is then saved for subsequent transactions.

However, Amazon’s patent on one-click buying expired in September 2017.

Before it did, other companies had to either avoid the one-click buying process altogether, or license it from the ecommerce giant for a fee. Many retailers chose to do the former. Among them, Apple did so back in 2000. The company’s access to this technology is why it has always been so easy to download a track on iTunes.

With that said, what are the implications of Amazon’s longtime patent expiring? To start, consumers should expect to see one-click buying ramp up across other sites in the future. As NPR notes, “Facebook, Google, Microsoft and other big players have been talking about how to develop an internet-wide 1-click checkout, wherein your credit card information moves with you from site to site.”

With or without one-click buying, convenient checkout is still an important factor in the way customers evaluate an online seller’s performance. As a result, the best ecommerce website builder must offer flexible payment options and a streamlined checkout process—otherwise merchants risk losing the traffic they’ve spent time and energy driving to their website before those hard won visitors complete a transaction. In fact, a clunky checkout process can even thwart a stellar product lineup. This is increasingly true because the percentage of online shoppers using mobile devices is steadily rising. Consumers using a smaller screen and keypad have little patience for filling out long forms, especially when they’re on the go.

Shopping cart abandonment is a serious phenomenon in the ecommerce world. One way to encourage shoppers to continue through the sales funnel is to nix the sign-in requirement before buying. If your web store forces shoppers to create an account by providing all of their financial and personal information before they can proceed, many will simply exit out of frustration or hurriedness.

In fact, Baymard found 35 percent of people who abandoned a cart in the last three months indicated it was because “the site wanted me to create an account.” Over a quarter of respondents (27 percent) said it was because the checkout process was simply too long or complicated.

A better alternative is to allow newcomers to check out as a guest with the minimum amount of information needed to complete a secure, accurate sale. Then you can invite them to create an account afterward—using the information they’ve already entered plus whatever else is necessary. Returning customers should be able to log into their saved accounts with a simple email and password combination, although for cybersecurity’s sake, you may want to enable two-factor authentication.

Whether more companies utilize one-click buying in the future now that Amazon’s patent has expired or another advancement comes along to simplify the online purchasing process, one thing is clear: convenience is king. Sellers must remove hurdles to simplified shopping if they expect to earn conversions and stay in their customers’ good graces. A convenient checkout process is a must in our modern marketplace.

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