The dawn of a new era for in-app purchasing

The dawn of a new era for in-app purchasing

The in-app purchase is nothing new, but the way it's done is ever evolving. Do you think there will be a day when you just tweet or like something to buy a product? This idea may be closer to reality than you think.

You've might have heard about the tweet-to-pay feature that launched recently, thanks to a partnership between Twitter and American Express. It's as simple as tweeting something like #BuyAmexGiftCard25, and badda-bing, you've responded to Amex's $25 gift for $15 offer on their Twitter feed. And it's easy to see why: it's so easy!

And there's more in store from Amex: a Kindle Fire HD for $149, an X-Box 360 for $179, and a Sony camera at $179, among other things. These are all cool offerings, but somehow, it feels like the tip of the iceberg. These deals - entirely financed by Amex - are among the first, fledgling steps in a new era of purchasing that aims to make buying easier than ever. Nevertheless, the doors have officially opened.

Facebook is in on it too

Now, on Facebook, a little in-app service called Chirpify is letting users simply type the word "buy" into certain pages (like those for musicians) to get albums and other consumables. Chirpify has already been offered on Twitter and Instagram, where it works very much like the Amex concept above, using the @ sign and hash tags to facilitate in-app purchases.

A prospective problem of perspective…

For brands and retailers, the concept of ridiculously simple in-app purchasing has an attractive lure, that's for certain. Why wouldn't we want our goods to be available with as little fuss as possible? After all, the in-app purchase makes the impulse buy more instantaneous than ever - and that's great, right?

It is, and the only "but" in the equation comes down to the consumer's comfort with having social media accounts connected to their bank accounts. If services like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are going to become vehicles of commerce to the extent that we would all like, account security has to step it up a notch. Our standalone websites are secure, SSL-encrypted shopping outlets that consumers generally feel safe on. But social sites aren't quite there yet - and that's not a preventative, it's just something that will have to be sorted out before the in-app purchase really takes off.

A dream worth dreaming

Although in its infancy (really), it's easy to see that there is a bright future for in-app purchasing. As more services enter the marketplace to facilitate ultra-easy buying, the technology and security will respond to the new buying habit. The modern shopper is primed for it, though.

Who doesn't want to make a purchase on-the-fly without filling out lengthy forms and clicking around a slew of pages? We all do - but we want to do it safely and responsibly. So that becomes the challenge for brands: how do we present the easiest opportunity to convert ever imagined? Now might be a good time to start addressing how the coming in-app advent will work for our respective businesses and our valued customers. This is food for thought worth pondering over, because the in-app era may be just around the corner.

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