Can Stripe Relay Create Social Commerce Standardization?

The proliferation of social shopping tools is creating both opportunity and challenges for business looking to capitalize on the growing digital commerce medium.

Social networks are getting more serious about enabling a frictionless commerce experience. Nearly every network has some form of “buy now” buttons and Instagram is even being heralded as the future of mobile commerce. It’s a logical progression of social shopping, with the potential to make ads both more relevant and interactive, while tapping into the vibrant ecommerce market. The question we now face is what does the transition look like?

Stripe, a mobile payment processing company, recently launched an application programming interface (API) called Relay. The purpose of the API is to connect retailers and developers to a better ecommerce experience, that spans across multiple apps. Such integration allows users to make purchases without leaving their social app of choice, thus improving the whole ad infrastructure.

However, this system will only work if networks choose to opt in. The only way to sustain the system long term is to attract high value networks, like Pinterest. But a Pinterest spokesperson told Re/code:

Stripe is a great partner as we continue working together on Buyable Pins. While we’re not involved in this latest product, we look forward to seeing its evolution.

As networks continue to push their own buy buttons, the result could be a fractured market in which businesses find it difficult to capitalize on the expansion of ecommerce. Stripe CEO Patrick Collison said at a launch event:

For retailers, there are too many different apps, too many channels that they can integrate with directly. (Relay) helps merchants sell in multiple places with a single integration.

Apps are in an interesting space right now, where single use applications are becoming less useful. However, services like Relay could make each app more relevant, and make it easier to move between environments seamlessly, increasing overall engagement and allowing a much smoother flow from viewing a post to making a purchase.

Users are browsing social in search of products anyway, so marketers and retailers should be trying to capitalize on this traffic. It just depends if they want to engage with Relay, or if they wish to push forward for their own solutions.

Image courtesy of Stripe.