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Headless checkout revolutionizes publisher commerce strategies

By Calanthia Mei, Vice President, Partnerships at Fast
By Matt Ackley, Director of Publisher Partnerships at Fast

Publishers play an instrumental role in the shopping discovery experience. Most e-commerce merchants build awareness for themselves by aligning their products and services with publishers that have audiences they would like to convert into their customer base. Whether a publisher is educating their audience on a new product, providing reviews for someone far along in the consideration process, or providing third-party validation of an upcoming purchase, publishers have a profound impact on the shopping experience.

For the past 20 years, publishers have been limited to directing traffic off of their properties in hopes of the shopper navigating the seller’s checkout process and ultimately earning an affiliate commision. Traditionally, merchants pay for advertising, mentions, sponsored posts, and other content to drive traffic to their website. When a shopper likes what they see, they normally click on the content, are directed to the merchant’s website, and begin the process of buying the product. Somewhere between adding that product to the cart and completing checkout, more than 70% of shoppers abandon the process altogether. Research suggests most shoppers blame long and confusing checkout processes for walking away.

Publishers have an incredible opportunity to be at the forefront of turning this painful statistic around. Headless checkout revolutionizes the shopping experience by removing redirects and allowing customers to complete purchases without ever leaving the publisher’s website. One-click, on-site checkout unlocks a whole new world of commerce and revenue opportunities for publishers. We know that sounds wild, but hear us out.

Forward-thinking social media platforms are pioneering social commerce and are already allowing shoppers to complete purchases on their platform. Instead of clicking on an ad on Instagram and jumping through numerous checkout hurdles to make a purchase, the popular app makes it easier for consumers to checkout without leaving the app. Consumers can now make purchases directly from the point of inspiration on Instagram and Facebook. Their payment card and shipping information are stored in-app, which accelerates the checkout process.

Facebook allows consumers to shop directly on its platform.

Instead of allowing this new wave of commerce to live exclusively within the walled gardens of Facebook and Instagram, Fast is bringing headless checkout to the open web so that all publishers can provide their users engaging and frictionless commerce experiences.

What does that look like? Online, Fast Checkout buttons allow shoppers to complete their purchases directly in editorials and paid ads. In print (think newspapers, magazines, promotional offers sent by mail) and on TV, QR codes can be displayed with advertisements, allowing customers to buy items literally off the page or just by scanning a code of a screen.

There is an abundance of opportunity to modernize affiliate marketing with headless checkout. By enabling checkout on publishers’ sites, publishers gain the opportunity to generate incremental commission by driving additional purchases, serve incremental advertising, authenticate more users, and build a deeper connection with their audience. Enterprising publishers are already exploring ways to transition from a content-in-exchange-for-advertising model to a user-centric, commerce-focused model. The deprecation of third-party cookies is only accelerating efforts to diversify revenue streams and build a closer relationship with users. Combining the power of headless checkout with the prodigious affiliate marketing industry can change how people buy things forever.