Retail sales have evolved in the past 20 years. Once, customers shopped in stores; later, they shopped on merchant’s websites. Now, a new trend has customers shopping on sites that are not even stores at all. Universal checkout technology allows consumers to browse and shop in one online location, add products their cart from multiple merchants and check out in one seamless process.
The advantages of universal shopping carts are numerous - for merchants, publishers and consumers. Consumers enjoy the convenience of a single checkout process, no matter how many different retailer’s products their order contains. Publishers keep that qualified traffic on their site, instead of losing users as they click out to make purchases. And lastly, merchants gain exposure to new audiences as content and influencer marketing are taken to an entirely new level.
The universal shopping cart is a small but steadily growing trend. If your brand is not currently working with any, here are the top four to start with.
One of the first universal shopping carts to hit the market, back in 2011, was 72Lux, a platform that partnered with publishers to allow customers to shop products showcased within the website’s editorial content and checkout without leaving the publisher’s site. Integration, however, was either manual, requiring someone on 72Lux’s end to place the order on each retailer’s site as the orders came through (unsustainable at a large scale) or required use of an API.
They’ve since re-launched as Shoppable, a more seamless experience, catering to both shoppers and publishers. Consumers can make use of Shoppable’s Google Chrome extension to add products to a universal cart from any website they visit, while publishers can utilize Shoppable’s universal cart to allow their visitors to purchase products from multiple brands featured, with one checkout process.
Heather Marie, Founder and CEO of Shoppable, explains the opportunity presented by universal shopping carts.
“As publishers focus on distributed content, they should also focus on distributed commerce. The retail environment is no longer binary; there’s now a third environment that needs attention: the consumer’s own world. Every time a merchant, retailer or brand is mentioned online—whether in editorial, social media or advertising—there’s an opportunity for seamless conversion, transaction and revenue. The solution to this opportunity is using a universal shopping cart layer on your website that allows consumers to buy at the point of inspiration. It’s a landscape that’s ripe for development, yet few have gotten it right.”
Shoppable is a company that is pioneering this space with B2B solutions that provide customized layers to make publishers' content shoppable, as well as offer a consumer product, the Google Chrome extension "Shoppable, The Universal Shopping Cart."
Two Tap allows publishers to tap into the potential of universal shopping carts by selling products from multiple merchants directly from the publisher’s site. Two Tap helps address concerns by publisher that external links to products carry customers away from their site. Allowing customers to check out without leaving the publisher’s site keeps those customers (and further ad dollars) on site.
Partnering with Two Tap gives you access to a detailed database, from which you can approve or search for new partner apps, and view how many carts (and sales and revenue) have been created with your products via those apps.
Lyst is a social shopping site that lets you purchase items from multiple brands via one shopping cart and checkout process. Chondita Dayton, US SVP and Global Manager of Lyst explains,
“Digital shopping is developing faster than most people realize, it’s become the norm overnight and there are a plethora of trends in this space - from the conversion of social media and messenger apps into shoppable platforms to the incredible increase in mobile use. Enabling customers to check out from multiple retailers in a single, unified transaction will become even more important to support agile shoppers and their needs.
Fashion is an anomaly in the marketplace, so far there isn’t a dominate retailer because customers are discerning and want a variety of different pieces from a vast array of brands to fulfill their needs. We hope the universal shopping cart will empower Lyst users with a seamless transaction within a world of options, giving them the custom experience they desire."
Lyst is a stand-alone website - a single dedicated platform as opposed to a technology for hire. Their focus is on creating a beautiful, feature-rich shopping experience that draws the customer back again and again.
Spring is a ‘curated commerce platform designed to make mobile shopping easy and fun for people, and highly effective for brands.’ Like Lyst, they are a stand-alone website, rather than a service, but their focus is on mobile. Their website and app are beautiful page after page of high quality images, shoppable from within the website or app. They work only directly with brands, not resellers, which makes them a great resource for brands who sometimes find it challenging to attract direct sales. They also offer customers free shipping and returns, for a more seamless shopping experience, although that means that to work with them, brands need to be able to support that.
The advent of the universal shopping cart has and will continue to transform the way customers shop online, allowing customers full freedom and flexibility to browse and shop with multiple merchants and check out in one seamless process. Whether you incorporate it into your influencer marketing strategy, via providers like Two Tap or Shoppable, or partner directly with sites and apps who aggregate products, like Lyst and ShopSpring, universal checkout will expand your brand’s reach, helping to drive new customers, sales and revenue.