Headless Checkout Tackles Cart Abandonment

E-commerce sales boomed amid the pandemic, and they are only growing more essential to commerce. The upshot is that businesses need to turn decades of attention toward in-store purchasing to digital channels.

Conventional digital marketing would lead us to believe engineering an effective e-commerce customer journey means driving customers to the seller’s site, or a retailer’s site, and then getting them to convert on a purchase.

But startup Fast is challenging the received wisdom with an innovation called headless checkout. The term refers to a technology that allows consumers to convert with one click wherever they encounter a product — think social commerce but for any venue on the web.

In practice, that means a customer reading about a beauty product on Instagram, in an email, or on a review page can automatically see and purchase it on that channel. There’s no extended path to purchase and no chance for cart abandonment when the customer navigates to the beauty brand’s website and then finds out they need to create an account.

“Today, when a potential customer discovers a product in an article or on social media, they are redirected to the merchant’s website and sent down an all too common and cumbersome path to make a purchase,” said Calanthia Mei, vice president of partnerships at Fast. “With headless checkout, the buyer can make a purchase instantaneously on a publisher site, in a blog post, in an email or via a QR code with a Fast Checkout button embedded.”

A recent Fast survey showed that 86% of consumers had abandoned a cart online, and 55% said a quicker, easier online path to purchase would make them more likely to buy. The latter trend was particularly pronounced among millennials, 71% of whom said the ease of purchasing would affect their decision to convert.

Fast also makes it easy for consumers to track their purchases and order the same product again, possibly increasing customers’ lifetime value several times over.

Friction-induced cart abandonment is a well-documented phenomenon and one that many sellers must remedy, lest they miss out on dollars at a time of unprecedented convenience. Retail marketing firm Listrak estimates that customers abandon carts as frequently as 81% of the time.

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Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018 and compiled the daily newsletter since 2016. Joe is a journalist who has written widely about technology, business, and politics. You can contact him at jzappa@streetfightmag.com.