pushbutton

Amazon is finally getting a button of its own.

That seems to be a benchmark for technology companies: they know they’ve “made it” when their name and logo appear on countless sites around the Web, whether it’s a sign-in button from Facebook or Google or it’s a share button from Twitter or Pinterest. (I suspect that those companies actually rely on user numbers and revenues to measure their worth, but for the sake of this post, let’s just go with the buttons.)

The company has announced a new “login and pay” button allowing its customers to share their payments and shipping information with any company that adds the button to its site. The button will make it easier for consumers to share that information on mobile devices, while allowing newer companies to accept payments without asking consumers to trust whatever hackneyed payment platform they can afford.

Everyone knows that shopping on a smartphone sucks. They aren’t made for tasks that require accurately typing all kinds of information, and most of them aren’t built to survive the inevitable collision with a nearby wall when someone realizes they accidentally typed “M” instead of “N” in some form or another, making them choose between retyping that information or calling it quits. (If the abandonment rates are anything like they were last year, most choose the latter.)

Amazon’s button can change that. Besides making it easier to make a payment with just a few taps, the button will also make it easier for small companies to instill trust in potential buyers. Amazon is known for its commitment to customer satisfaction — even though it’s using them as weapons in its battle with Hachette at the moment — and making a payment through its platform is less frightening than offering payment and shipping information to someone else.

“If you think about giving a merchant that you may not know very well the right to continue to charge your credit card in the future, you really want to know that a good relationship with Amazon stands behind that,” Amazon’s vice president of seller services, Tom Taylor, said in a Reuters interview. “We hope whoever the next Spotify out there is thinking about Amazon.”

The button might also make consumers trust Amazon even more than they did before. Gartner analyst Brian Blau told me that companies trusted with payment information tend to have the upper-hand over companies that aren’t, because consumers have come to rely on them. It makes sense then for consumers to trust Amazon a bit more every time they rely on it to make a payment or share their shipping information, given their constant exposure to the company. And now that trust (and Amazon’s influence) can be spread across the entire Web.

[photo by Steven Depolo]