Think of it as a buy button that merchants can place in multiple platforms. With Relay, merchants can integrate with multiple platforms and sell their products with simpler buying experiences. The goal is to ensure that a buying experience starts and ends within an app without having to jump out to a mobile site where users have to finish up the purchasing experience.
As an example, one of the first integrations is with Twitter, where retailers can sell anything in Tweets, Stripe CEO Patrick Collison said. Retailers have a dashboard where they define products and get a link — which, for example, they can Tweet. Then a buy button shows up next to it on Twitter, giving Twitter users a way to buy something within Twitter right away.
“At Twitter we’re focusing on the user experience, and this partnership is about growing the merchants to make it easy and frictionless to help merchants sell in more real-time,” Twitter head of commerce Nathan Hubbard said.
Then a native window appears within Twitter with a buy-now button directly within the Twitter app. All of the information is stored on Stripe, like different versions of retail products, that users can flip through (the example given on stage being different types of sunglasses from Warby Parker).
The product was in response to the clunkiness of the buying experience that require flipping through multiple pages on a mobile website and lots of input from users. This is familiar territory for Stripe. In 2012, a number of companies coming to Stripe with a series of questions about products that Stripe hadn’t yet built — so it went to build them and subsequently created Stripe Connect.
When merchants work through Relay, they get access to the partners that Stripe works with to add their commerce options. This greatly increases the potential footprint of merchants — something that’s attractive to any merchant that has to send potential customers through the unfortunate scenario of flipping through multiple pages and signing up for putting in credit card information for the nth time. It’s certainly something that merchants will be excited about, given that it should be easy to sign up for (it’s basically built into a dashboard for merchants, a Stripe spokesperson tells me).
The company is also integrating with Inmobi, ShopStyle and Spring initially. App developers who integrate with Inmobi can enable Relay purchases in apps rather than pushing them to mobile sites. Retailers have already uploaded 4 million products to Relay that they can make available for instant purchase in apps since the launch, Collison said.
“Making a purchase necessarily requires links, page loads, and context today,” Collison said. “On top of that, the purchase load is broken with endless form fields, validation — nobody in their right mind would want to go through with it, it’s like intentionally designing [difficult] purchases.”
The company held an event in San Francisco where it unveiled the new tools today. It was Stripe’s first event.
“It’s not competing with any existing product, it’s competing with entropy in the world,” Collison said. “It’s very clear to us looking at any ecosystem that it needs to be solved. That’s the kind of infrastructure we want to build.”