At its 2016 Worldwide Developer’s Conference Apple announced—among many other things—that Apple Pay is coming to the Web. Generically, this means that commerce-enabled Websites will be able to add a “pay with Apple Pay” button to their site; here’s what it means specifically:

  • The audience of buyers won’t change… Who can use Apple Pay today? Owners of iPhone and iPad models that are equipped with TouchID, as well as iPhone 5/5s/5c owners who also possess an Apple Watch. Who will be able to use Apple Pay in the future? The same group, though if they want to do so via a PC they’ll need to use the Safari browser on a Mac running Sierra, the upcoming release of macOS, and they will have needed to update their phone to iOS 10.
  • …but the audience of sellers will explode. Where can these people use Apple Pay today? At a wide variety of physical locations (Apple reports more than 2.5 million in the US) and within a select set of applications including Uber and Instacart. Where will they be able to use Apple Pay in the future? On the vast majority of the Web. This next release will expand Apple Pay’s potential reach to virtually any commerce-enabled Website. Concomitant with Apple’s statement, e-commerce vendors Shopify, IBM and DemandWare announced support for Apple Pay in upcoming releases of their platforms. Shopify claims the potential to enable more than 275,000 merchants and IBM more than 12,000, including 9 of the top 10 US retailers.

But marketers may be misled by Apple’s choice to place this announcement in the context of Sierra and paying on the Mac. Certainly Apple Pay streamlines the customer experience when buying on a computer, but inputting personal and payment information is not a huge impediment when armed with a keyboard and mouse (and browser auto-fill capability). In fact, the greater benefit for desktop users lies in Apple Pay’s security mechanisms: secure storage, virtual card number, and tokenization.

The real payoff for digital commerce marketers is on the mobile Web, where the hassle of filling out the requisite forms is a fundamental cause of shopping cart abandonment and lost sales. Because Apple Pay can transmit all of the information required to complete a purchase, merchants can truly implement a “one click” payment option, close the sale, and then let the marketing team go to work on the follow-through that will ensure the customer loves the product and will become a brand advocate.

There are many opportunities for marketers to exploit new payment capabilities to improve the entire commerce experience, all of which I explore in my note How Marketers Should Tap Mobile Payments (subscription required).

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