E-commerce will change forever

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Next month e-commerce will change forever thanks to Amazon. September 12 marks 20 years since Amazon filed for their 1-Click patent. This means that the patent will expire and the technology behind it will be free to be used by any e-commerce site. Starting next month more and more sites will be offering a one click checkout experience. Most major sites have already started development with plans to launch soon after the patent expires.

History behind the patent

Amazon applied for the 1-Click patent in September of 1997, the actual patent was granted in 1999. The whole idea behind the patent is when you store a user’s credit card and address you only need a single click to order a product. For the last 20 years Amazon has kept a tight hold on this technology, they have only licensed it to one company Apple. No one knows what Apple paid to license the technology, but the value of the patent has been assessed at 2.4 billion dollars by sources. Over the last 20 years Amazon has defended the validity of the patent in several cases, even having to revise the patent at one point. But, now the wait is almost over and this technology is about to make it into the open market.

Not a one page checkout

The one click checkout is not to be confused with a one page checkout. With a one page checkout all of the account, checkout, and payment information is on one page. With a one click checkout a user is sent straight from the product (or category) page to the order confirmation page. No clicking through any steps or accepting any charges, one click from a product page and an order is placed. The user will land directly on the order confirmation page. Order placed, once click and done.

Merchants listen up

If you are a merchant, this can be a huge opportunity for you. With the holiday season right around the corner who does not want to offer their customers a quicker, easier way to checkout? You can reduce the friction of going through a whole checkout process down to just one button press from a product page. Look at the image below, pressing the buy now button will take a user directly to an order confirmation page and charge their payment method.

thirty bees buy now

Not all credit card processors have the technology to support a one click checkout system. Some that we know that have the technology are:

  • Stripe
  • Authorize.net
  • First Data
  • Paypal Pro
  • Skybank

These are the ones we have worked with in the past that we know use a card vault. Others likely support it too, so if you know another processor that uses a card vault let us know. The card vault is the key to the frictionless payment. Customers store their card to use it later, that is one of the keys to the one click checkout process.

How serious is this?

It is serious enough that the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has started writing a draft proposal for one click buying methods.  They have recruited some of the top companies in the industry like Google, Apple, and Facebook to help come up with a set of specifications. Google has already implemented some of the standards in its Chrome and Chrome Mobile browsers, with more likely to come in the future. They have proposed ways of storing cards and address data in the browser and letting the browser communicate directly with your payment gateway to send the card or bank information. Sounds pretty useful doesn’t it?


What are we doing?

We realize that is technology is important to our merchants. This is something that will change e-commerce in a major way over the next year. We have already started on a framework to extend the thirty bees 1.0.x branch to allow for single click buying. We are developing a module that will allow payment modules to hook into it, so that developers can extend their payment modules to work with a single click buying. We are going to develop several of these modules in house, such as the Stripe module and a couple of other modules. We are also going to release a couple tutorials on how to hook into the single click checkout module, so that developers will be able to easily update their modules to support the new system.

2017-08-24T15:06:05+00:00 August 18th, 2017|

About the Author:

Lesley Paone
Lesley is one of the co-founders of thirty bees. He also is the owner of a PrestaShop support, development, and SEO agency called dh42. He has been active in the ecommerce community for almost a decade providing help and support services.
  • Interesting stuff! Didn’t know that this patent will expire. I doubt, that on click buy will be very popular here in switzerland, but we will see 🙂 I think, tb needs to support merging of orders. Otherwise you will have some multiple shippings for no reason… What do you think?

    • thirty bees

      From my understanding this was never patented in the EU. They would not grant the patent because it was considered an obvious invention. But, that being said, the laws around e-commerce in the EU are so restrictive it will likely never be that big.

      • Yeah. But how do you think about the “merging order” thing?

        • thirty bees

          Its not that easy. These orders would be charging for shipping automatically on the click. If you merged orders you would then have to issue refunds.

        • OllieJones

          Good question….

          What about a technique like Gmail uses for their “Undo Send” function? Use a time delay suspension of the transaction. In Gmail’s case, they delay actually transmitting the message for a fixed period of time, during which the “undo” user interface element is available. This gives the user the illusion that it’s possible to recall the message when, of course, SMTP email does not offer any such recall function.

          In Ecommerce’s case, after somebody orders something, it’s possible to hold the order in suspension for some period of time, for example, half an hour. If the same person orders something else in that time, merge the orders if possible.

          Being able to undo a one-click order within a few minutes would also be respectful of customers.

          About charges: It’s also possible to make the charge for the amended order equal to the difference in orders. Also, payment card processing usually proceeds in two phases: approval and posting. The posting for a merged one-click order can come after the suspension period has elapsed.

          • thirty bees

            That can work as well. Think of how this will affect abandoned cart recovery, purchase link straight in the email…

  • Thanks for this update, Lesley!

  • Kent Green

    Honestly curious how this matters. Any payment processor worth anything nowadays offers the capacity to store a card so that merchants can run charges on the tokenized card later w/out needing the cc # again. Chase, Braintree, Adyen, WorldPay = all vault. This function has existed for years w/ any serious e-commerce site. So how will things change?

    • thirty bees

      That is true. But sites have not legally in the US and Canada, had the ability to present users with one consolidated button from a product page that will figure shipping, tax, and charge against that token. They have to take you to the checkout, then they can present it.

      • Kent Green

        So then anything that’s an in-context commerce experience (i.e. purchasing an uber via facebook messenger, or buying something on pinterest buyable pins) has been in violation of this (and amazon just didn’t bother to chase it down)?

        • thirty bees

          I am by no means a lawyer, but here is my understanding. The patent does not apply to apps. Amazon was sued over the patent at one point in the mid 2000’s and had to revise the patent to be more specific to websites only. This is what I understood from doing the research.

          • Kent Green

            Interesting, inasmuch the one-click-checkout from the cart is such a normalized experience, I bet many consumers don’t even see it as friction.

            If lots of merchants start adding checkout to the product page, I could see lots of buyer confusion around making purchases “too soon” w/out good UX around it.


          • thirty bees

            I am sure there will be as well. I think that is why the W3C has taken it on to try to standardize it. In my opinion, it is one of those things that might seem foreign now, but give it a couple of years and 80% of users will know what it is and how to use it.

          • Mike Lee is a good man


  • Richard K

    All this fuss but to this day I’ve still never been able to actually order something in exactly “just one click”.

    Not sure I’d even want to – typically I buy a few things at once, and want to change or confirm the address.
    As far as patents go this one is a great example of mere user experience stuff that should not be eligible for patents. Seriously, how does this compare in terms of technical novelty to, say, the design of a steam engine?

  • Tom Noreilde

    Great. I love how Tb implement the future.
    Keep on going.

  • Great news! It should make ecommerce more easier

  • Pete Austin

    Amazon also owns the trademark, which will not expire, so be careful what you call your feature to avoid confusion with what Amazon does. IANAL etc:

    • thirty bees

      That is true, it does come up this year, but trademarks can be renewed which I think they likely will do.

  • Shopify needs this! Or someone needs to make an app. Great opportunity to capitalize on what will most likely be a massive influx of Ecommerce stores looking for this feature.

    • thirty bees

      Weird you would post about one of our competitors, but yeah, I think every platform needs this.

    • Scott

      “In April, Shopify rolled out Shopify Pay, an omnichannel tool similar to one-click ordering that allows shoppers to store payment information with any Shopify merchant and then pay without having to re-enter any of that data.”

      • thirty bees

        Apple is the only company ever allowed to license Amazon’s one click checkout.

    • Scott

      Stripe also has a similar system called Relay

      • thirty bees

        Stripe relay is mobile specific which is not covered under the patent. Amazon tried to make it covered under the patent, but they lost that case and had to refile the patent excluding mobile.