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What Does Facebook “Autofill” Mean For E-Commerce?

In a recent announcement, Facebook revealed that it had formed a partnership with e-commerce platform Ecwid. As a result, the 450,000 merchants of this online shopping solution can now take advantage of Autofill with Facebook, which allows customers to easily recall credit card, billing and shipping information on the social network.


However, this isn’t the first indication or announcement that Facebook has made regarding future e-commerce solutions, particularly Autofill. In August last year, it started testing the Autofill API with clothing sales app JackThreads. A month later, Facebook said it was collaborating with PayPal and Stripe to implement Autofill with their payment processing as well.


Does this mean Facebook is attempting to become even more involved in the world of e-commerce? And how will it affect our mobile browsing and shopping trends?


Autofill with Facebook


Back when Autofill with Facebook was quietly launched in September 2013, a spokesperson told CNET that the feature would give “people the option to use their payment information already stored on Facebook to populate the payment form when they make a purchase in a mobile app. The app then processes and completes the payment.”


As opposed to Google Wallet, which actually processes payment, Facebook’s e-commerce solution simplifies the whole buying process. But why would the world’s biggest social network be interested in providing such a service?


One reason is that it can help drive more customers to designated retail partners, such as the hundreds of thousands of merchants on Ecwid. But perhaps the biggest advantage for Facebook is that it will provide extensive data about what users buy and where they make purchases.


With access to such extensive information, Facebook can see whether paid promotion directly leads to e-commerce sales. In turn, more retailers and outlets will want to buy advertising space, as it has been proven to deliver results. This is bound to be at the forefront of its partnership with Ecwid and it could only be a matter of time before more e-commerce brands follow suit.


How will it affect e-commerce? 


According to mobile advertising company InMobi, the way we browse and purchase products is changing. In a study of nearly 15,000 smartphone and tablet users, almost half said their device is a key channel that affects purchasing decisions. A further 56 per cent visited an online store for more product information, while 86 per cent plan to make a mobile purchase in the coming year.


Therefore, it is clear to see that Autofill with Facebook is reacting to these consumer trends. Even though it is already incredibly easy to visit an e-commerce store on your mobile, choose a product and proceed to the checkout, Facebook wants to make the most time-consuming process much quicker.


Without having to fill in payment, billing and shipping information, it might only take two or three clicks to make a purchase thanks to Autofill with Facebook. Seeing as lots of people are willing to share Facebook information on a multitude of apps already, there is no reason why this can’t be extended to e-commerce retailers too.

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