Buy Buttons: A Mobile Payments Commonality May be on the Decline

July 8, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

Buy buttons are a wonderful addition to the e-commerce landscape, at least by retailers’ standards. Reports suggest that better than seven in 10 major e-commerce merchants offer at least one such option on their sites, and one in five are offering at least two. Yet a new report from PYMNTS indicates that the buy button may be starting to lose ground with shoppers.

The PYMNTS report noted that, while the overall share of buy button availability is high, it hasn’t increased much over recent years. In the first quarter of 2018, it was at 72.7 percent with a buy button. That increased slightly in the second quarter to 73.1 percent, but by the second quarter of 2019, it was back down to 72.7 percent.

However, looking more closely at the overall numbers makes it clear that something much more complex than the simple shift of total use is afoot. The top 1,000 e-commerce retailers were studied and it seems that buy buttons are catching on more readily in some places than in others.

Amazon Pay and Google Pay, for example, saw substantial gains; in the second quarter of 2018, 13.6 percent of retailers used Amazon Pay’s buy button, but a year later, that went to 14.6 percent. For Google Pay, in the same time frame, the numbers went from 0.9  percent to 3.9 percent. The top dog in the field is PayPal, with 69.5 percent of e-commerce retailers supporting it as of 2019’s second quarter.

While the overall numbers aren’t changing much—the gains have been small overall and most of them were lost in 2019—the way these are being used is changing and pretty substantially. Like an inflated balloon squeezed at the middle, one part compresses while another part expands. What seems to be happening, in fact, is that some segments of the market are discovering how useful buy buttons are, while other segments are finding them less than useful. Those segments who found use are ramping up accordingly, and those who don’t see the value are cutting back.

This is a continually-evolving industry, and we’ll likely see a lot more change take place before it’s all said and done. Next year’s figures may look nothing like this year’s, and the only way to tell will be to watch and see.