It just occurred to me that the epitome of an online shopping experience should be the ability for a user to shop for a product with just one click. But then its not the case (mostly) because of a certain patent that Amazon has over this idea. In fact the patent extends from shopping cart to the name one-click.
This case simply highlights the absurdity of the patent regime in the US. How can a user task flow be patented? e-Commerce Shopping cart optimization is the most obvious one that any business or usability analyst would come up with. Perhaps every online retailer had a simplified process on their mind. It’s probably Amazon who thought of patenting it. And with that, create problem for other retailers in providing similar benefits to its customers.
The reason for my claims of absurdity is that this patent is (to my best knowledge) applicable only in the US and Canada. Even the EU does not acknowledge it.
So what is one-click shopping? It’s no complex business process or any math algorithm being played in in the back-end system that makes it unique in any way. It’s simply taking a shoppers previous details of shopping and applying it for any subsequent purchases to make it easier for the customers to make repeated purchases from the retailer.
So when, as a customer, I log on to a site and make a purchase for the first time, I provide my residential address and delivery address along with my payment details which would typically be credit card details. The retailer would make life easy for a customer like me by remembering these details and giving me the provision to permanently do my shopping with these details as my default shopping information. Now, do you find any eureka moment in this description? Oh ya. ‘One Click’ experience. But then that’s something being managed though my account preference. I am taking a decision, as an aware user, to undertake this process. Your are just providing me this option. Why then is this option so dramatically unique to get patented is beyond my comprehension. Any retailer could have though of it (or probably must have at a certain point).
Believe it or not, even Apple pays Amazon for the one-click purchase that it has implemented in iTunes store. Even Barnes $ Noble had to settle a case with Amazon over its ‘Express Lane’ order process.
Does a use really get enchanted by a one-click option?
Well, probably he or she does. Certainly in the case of Apple or Google who have app stores to purchase songs and apps. But then, a lot of decision are based on making choices and then re-thinking the choices before you finally take out your card to get it swiped. You purchase all that you carry or you simply drop off a couple of items and make your finally buying call. From a retailers perspective, on-click is the best thing that can happen to trap impulsive buyers. But whether users are impulsive is something of a topic for research that I would not like to go into. What I think is that for buying products, a couple of clicks is not a big deal for users. It perhaps might be an issue for those who frequently purchase songs online. Probably the reason Apple did not complicate its life and went for licensing from Amazon.
As for retailers who are outside of the US & Canada, I hope you have considered this proposition for your customers. I know a lot of retailers who have.
As long as your check-out experience is a pleasure for the customer to undergo. They will not care if its one click, two click or more. Thais the who idea of engagement. Not getting them to believe that it’s a grind but a process that happens naturally.