The Opportunities and Limitations of the “Buy Now” Button

The “Buy Now” button is making waves across the digital retail world, allowing users to purchase products online without being redirected to a retailer’s website.



Last year both Twitter & Facebook announced they would be adding “Buy Now” buttons to their own websites. Now the popular visual discovery platform, Pinterest, has also jumped on the band wagon with promises of their own version of the button. Not only will this create new opportunities for advertisers but it will simplify the purchasing process for consumers, improving their customer experience.


By simplifying the transaction process, there is a great likelihood that retailers will see increased conversion rates. The more steps that exist between the consumer and their final purchase the more opportunities there are for them to withdraw from the process, abandoning goods in their cart. This is especially true when one of those steps requires a consumer to leave a site.

In addition to a simplified purchasing process, social networks with ecommerce platforms offer retailers a unique opportunity to reach consumers on their mobile devices. In fact, approximately 34% of all time spent on social media is through smartphone applications, and social networking is the second most common use of smartphones.

We are seeing a trend towards social networks becoming more ecommerce focused in order to compete for advertising spend. Last December, Facebook continued to drive its efforts by adding a “Sell Something” button, and several others geared towards consumer transactions. However, it’s not just the social networks that are transforming their websites into purchasing platforms, Google has recently announced their own “Buy Now” button which claims to allow shoppers to purchase items from the search results page with a single click.

Net Media Planet Analyst, James Pendleton suggests, “By having a “Buy Now” button Google is further encroaching on the turf of ecommerce platforms such as Amazon. Of course this is a natural progression for them, enhancing their Google Shopping offering. For retailers, a simplified purchasing process, no matter what the platform, means consumers are less likely to abandon cart mid-transaction, meaning more conversions.”

Limitations and Concerns

Of course “Buy Now” buttons have their limitations, especially within social networks. Analyst, Max Flajsner, states, “We are seeing a lot of small order value items being purchased. Testing within Twitter has been primarily focused on trialing musician and tour items, such as t-shirts. There has been little general merchandise products yet and we can’t be entirely sure which products will be successful. However, we can surmise that items which require more research before purchase such as cameras and laptops would not do quite as well. Impulse purchases and small value items will succeed.

“Google on the other hand, has a shopping platform which allows consumers to compare and contrast multiple options on one page. Consumers are more likely to purchase higher ticketed items promptly if they can do their researching and purchasing from one location.”

As well as not having any historical data on how products will perform, whenever you ask a consumer for their credit card details there are going to be trust and privacy concerns. Furthermore, in order to simplify the transaction to be a single click process the company will have to store consumer details.

However, we live in a society where fraud has become weekly news and many have become desensitised to it. Though desensitised, many consumers are careful as to where they share their data. This is why trust is so important. If the company can build trust consumers will be more likely to convert.

The world of media is constantly changing; everything needs to be faster, easier and more adjusted to the customers’ needs. This makes the “Buy Now” feature so important for businesses and we can expect to see much more of it in 2015. As the CEO of Stripe (Twitter’s payment partner), Patrick Collison, stated “It is just the start”.

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