Brick-and-mortar retailers wouldn't dream of sending customers outside the confines of their stores to finalize a purchase. Yet online merchants do it all the time, ushering shoppers away from digital storefronts to third-party payment platforms like PayPal. It's counterintuitive--and can lead to lost revenue.
Roughly two-thirds of consumers abandon shopping carts before completing a web purchase, due mainly to the complexity and length of the checkout process. A new service, Ribbon, promises to eliminate this friction with a patent-pending, quick-and-simple system that enables merchants to take payments via links inserted into websites, e-mail, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds.
"Why push buyers away from whatever platform they're already on? Why don't we keep them there?" asks Hany Rashwan, co-founder and CEO of the San Francisco-based company. "With Ribbon, the buyer never leaves."
Merchants log on to Ribbon and plug in product information, photos and videos; for each item, the service generates a short URL, which sellers can copy and paste anywhere they wish to offer merchandise. Each URL links to a one-page checkout option customized for that platform. For example, if a customer clicks on a product from a seller's Facebook page, the purchase is completed entirely within the News Feed, for a consistent, user-friendly customer experience.
Ribbon works with all major credit cards and processes purchases over a fully encrypted, SSL-secure payments system. All payments are deposited directly into the seller's bank or PayPal account. Ribbon takes 5 percent of the purchase price and a 30-cent transaction fee--high in the online payments game, but worth it for the convenience, the company claims.
Ribbon has thousands of vendors; roughly half market digital products like music. San Francisco rock trio Cloning Dolly turned to Ribbon to sell tickets to a recent concert and plans to offer T-shirts and song downloads in the future. "We posted the Ribbon link directly into our Facebook News Feed," says singer/guitarist Alejandro De Simone. "People told us buying tickets was easy and fast. The way it's presented is very intuitive."