Using the Relay API, which consists of several extensions to Stripe's core API, a retailer provides data about its products, such as name, description and SKU, and makes its product inventory accessible to app developers it wants to work with. Those developers can in turn display the retailer's products in their apps, and make them immediately purchasable in-app through Stripe.
According to Stripe's Siddarth Chandrasekaran, a number of companies, including Twitter and Pinterest, have built their own solutions which provide for similar mobile shopping experiences on their platforms, but "experiences like this are hard to build, since stores don’t usually make their products programmatically available." Stripe aims to use Relay to change that and give retailers and developers the opportunity to more easily create similar experiences of their own.
Retailers can submit their product data to Stripe using the Stripe dashboard, the Stripe API or integrations with third-party ecommerce platforms. To start, Stripe has built an integration with SAP Hybris, which is used by a number of high-profile retailers including Levi’s and Oakley.
Stripe counts Twitter and upstart eyewear retailer Warby Parker as Relay launch partners. To help developers get started and experiment with their own Relay integrations, Stripe has teamed up with online shopping service Wish, which is making its product inventory available to all Stripe developers in a test mode.
APIs could bolster mobile commerce, change the affiliate marketing landscape
As Srtipe's Chandrasekaran notes, mobile devices now account for 60% of website traffic, but they still only drive 15% of purchases. There are a number of reasons for this. One of the biggest: mobile commerce experiences tend to be less pleasant and efficient than their desktop counterparts.
If enough retailers embrace its Relay API and open their arms to third-party developers, Stripe could help bring the traffic-to-purchases percentages closer together. That obviously could be a big deal for Stripe's core business, which generates more revenue as the dollar value of the transactions that take place through its platform grows.
But it could also be a big deal for online commerce more generally, laying the foundation for a future in which affiliate relationships are virtually all powered by API integrations and in which developer affiliates have the opportunity to move the point of purchase from retailer websites to the experiences they create and own.