Google I/O 2013: Building better e-commerce experiences on Android

Engineers from the Google Wallet team offer some simple but essential tips for building mobile commerce experiences at I/O 2013.


SAN FRANCISCO -- Some of the more Easter Egg-like announcements at Google I/O 2013 this week focus on Google Wallet.

The digital payments service has struggled to get wider adoption in comparison to the likes of PayPal and Square, among others.

But Google isn't giving up. One of the more creative new features rolling out in the coming months (at least in the United States) is the ability to send digital funds via Gmail.

To further encourage integration of Google Wallet services on mobile apps, a couple of engineers from the division offered some simple tips and tricks to achieving higher conversion through mobile commerce on Android.

Given that there are 900 million activated Android devices worldwide, there are certainly opportunities abound.

Nevertheless, Jon Boekenoogen, a software engineer on the Google Wallet team, acknowledged during an afternoon session that there are at least three primary challenges: discovery, account management, and the payments process itself.

Boekenoogen also cited internal research that the current mobile cart abandonment rate is approximately 97 percent.

One new API designed to combat this is the Google Wallet Instant Buy function. Basically, a user with Google Wallet should be able to make faster purchases within a few taps.

For merchants, the integration is supposed to be "lightweight" (as well as secure) through the delivery of a virtual proxy card of the consumer's information.

Google software engineer John Stuppy also stressed the need of making a good "first impression" with mobile consumers.

Bottom line, this means that apps need to run as fast as possible.

In order to reduce latency, Google added on-device caching. Stuppy explained that the tool identifies necessary data about a user and stores it on device before activity is closed. When the activity is launched again, it can inflate the user interface within 125 milliseconds.

For international sales in particular, ask for the country before the state and city, offer the ability to enter addresses in the native language, and use code strings from the carrier to predict the user's country. The last one suggests to the consumer that the seller is capable of mailing the product to that market.

Naturally, anything having to do with mobile devices, data, and e-commerce raises questions and concerns about security. Stuppy even described that security and privacy are the "unseen user experiences of any commerce application."

In what could be the most basic but essential tip, Stuppy urged using HTTPS protocol simply to protect sensitive information and prevent "man in the middle" attacks.

Otherwise, developers are rather freely opening themselves up to a world of trouble.

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