Checkout Friction

Checkout friction is every obstacle to completing a purchase. Imagine that you are a customer at the checkout. What is going to improve your e-commerce checkout experience and what is going to make it a poor experience?

The longer and more difficult the process is between deciding to buy and being able to complete the purchase, the less chance of you completing the checkout. Rational doubt stalks the checkout, asking whether you really want that thing. With each delay it gets bolder. It’s called checkout friction. It is the demands the website makes of the customer in order for them to complete the purchase.

There are several ways to reduce friction. One is to already have the customer’s details, or rather, to have the checkout know the customer. Apple Pay and Google Pay know who you are when you are logged into your computer or phone. So they can speed you through the checkout. Then all the store owner has to know is what’s needed to implement one-click checkout.

Shopify has an equivalent app, named Shop. As soon as you buy anything from a Shopify store, the Shop app will recognise you in any other Shopify store.

The Fast app tried to do the same, and could be integrated with WooCommerce. But there is a big difference between Shopify and WooCommerce. All Shopify stores are run on Shopify’s servers. Therefore, what is known to one is known to all, because the checkout does not belong to the individual store, it belongs to Shopify.

That’s not the case with WooCommerce stores. which are usually set up on self-hosted sites. That means that all the sites (or a big proportion) would have to use Fast or it would not be ‘known’ to other sites. If a significant proportion do not take it up then it fails, to make checkout any faster, and doesn’t help checkout friction at all..

It would maybe have helped Fast if it was a one-click installation. It certainly wasn’t when I looked at it. As it was, it didn’t take off and the developer closed it down and published a farewell that included this paragraph:

Sometimes trailblazers don’t make it all the way to the mountain top. But even in those situations, they pave a way that all others will follow. Fast has done that with bringing one-click and headless checkout into the mainstream. Buying online has been forever changed by the incredible team at Fast. The dedication, brilliance and spirit of this remarkable team is unparalleled and will forever be the legacy of Fast.

Fast closed its doors because it didn’t achieve critical mass. That’s not to say another app couldn’t accomplish what it didn’t manage to do. Stripe backed Fast, and I wondered at the time why Stripe didn’t use a similar integration themselves. Maybe they cannot because of privacy concerns. Who knows, and maybe it will, but it has to find a place alongside Apple Pay and Google Pay, so maybe the market is already crowded and another solution would be a solution to a non-existent problem.

Final thought, why would you call an application ‘Fast’? Maybe it would have caught on had it had a catchier name. After all, we are not rational beings no matter what we tall ourselves.

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