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Keep’s universal shopping cart attempts to address mobile shopping quagmire

In an attempt to innovate the mobile online shopping experience, fashion wiki Keep has launched a new universal shopping cart that allows users to buy any product from any store, anywhere in one checkout process.

Currently only 10 percent of total U.S. commerce occurs online and a small fraction of that on mobile. The Keep Web-wide cart, which removes friction from mobile checkout and allows for purchasing from any online store in one cart, could help drive up the percentage of commerce that is transacting online.

“Anything and everything that puts consumers in control of their commerce experience is a good innovation for consumerism,” said Keep cofounder and president MaryAnn Bekkedahl.

“Today, mobile Web checkout is terrible when you want to check out with one store, and intolerable if you set out to buy across various stores.”

“Keep empowers consumers to organize all their purchases from all over the Web into one checkout; click ‘checkout’ and be done.”

Shift in dynamics
Keep serves as an intercessor between shoppers and retailers, allowing users to bring in products from any store on the Web by discovering picks from Keep’s community of tastemakers.

When orders are placed, Keep fundamentally buys the product for customers, which are then bought through Keep who manages all order placements, purchasing and shipping obligations.

A shipping fee estimate is presented at checkout until order processing, where final costs are then calculated based on the retailers, the items and the shipping destination. If shipping goes above the estimate, Keep alerts the customer before the card is charged. Other standard checkout options such as redeeming coupons and signing up for email newsletters are also available through the app.

Customers need only input their payment information once, which eliminates the friction of annoying small fields, locating a credit card and worrying about the security of personal information, as these conveniences delineate and encourage shoppers to get what they need.

The feature is in beta with current enthusiasts, so those just signing up now will be placed on a waiting list while Keep collects feedback from current users.

Keep’s universal cart presents an interesting shift in the power dynamic from brand to technology as a driver of consumer behavior.

Likewise, but not quite
Last summer, personalized fashion marketplace Lyst debuted its own universal cart.

Lyst is essentially a Pinterest specifically for fashion, where every item links to a point of sale. It is also personalized, so users can follow designer news, retailers and style gurus in addition to its namesake, from which shoppers can save items to create their own wishlyst.

While the feature allows shopping from multiple brands and retailers on one platform, it is inclusive of only brands that have signed a contract with Lyst such as Alexander Wang, Helmut Lang, and Rebecca Minkoff among others.

Lyst reports that its average user is a woman in her early 20s-30s who spends between $500-$1,000/month. Thus far, the universal check-out demonstrated a 500 percent increase in sales. Moreover, within one year, Lyst experienced an increase in mobile traffic from 8-30 percent derived from its app usage.

Technology and shopping are becoming inextricably entwined in response to consumer demand, resulting in retailers testing new strategies. Keep could further this trend if enough consumers adopt it by changing expectations of the shopping experience both on and off-line.

When it comes to mobile shopping, technology makes it difficult for retailers to maintain content parity between different versions of the Web, develop new features, integrate new marketing strategies and deliver advanced functionality to handhelds, thus creating a less than ideal experience that will deter consumers.

Mobile consumers will abandon or avoid web sites that do not offer a good mobile experience and companies that deliver a great experience such as Keep are likely to convert and retain mobile shoppers.

“Shopping on your phone or tablet is a quagmire of boxes. And not fun boxes, like with stuff in them that you bought,” said Ms. Bekkedahl

“We’re talking tiny boxes that want your name, email, work email, address, mother’s maiden name, zodiac sign, and blood type before you can just buy the shoes already.”

“Tiny typing into tiny boxes on your tiny iPhone keypad. Enough of this thumb yoga,” she said.

Final Take
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York