The online retailer Amazon.com Inc. has introduced a shortcut to its checkout service so that shoppers can buy products more quickly and set up different shipping addresses and payment methods.
People using Amazon PayPhrase can choose a customized phrase, such as "Shopping Queen," and a personal identification number when shopping on Amazon.com or another Web site in order to be taken instantly to a page confirming their order, the Seattle company said Thursday. Previously, consumers had to go through several steps to buy a product and could use only one card or shipping address at a time.
Online checkout services offered by Amazon.com, eBay's PayPal Inc. and Google Inc. are simplifying themselves to capture larger shares of online payments. They are trying to make the shopping experience more convenient for consumers, most of whom enter a credit or debit card number every time they buy something online.
"Credit card companies to a large extent aren't focused on the online checkout process," said Russ Jones, a consultant at the payments research firm Glenbrook Partners LLC in Menlo Park, Calif., which has worked for Amazon. "This service is making the checkout process much simpler than it already is."
With PayPhrase, customers type a selected phrase into a box. One phrase could send an item to their home, and charge a personal credit card. Another phrase could send something to work and charge a corporate card already on file with Amazon.com.
Consumers can use Amazon.com's PayPhrase service on Web sites such as Buy.com and the apparel sites DKNY and Patagonia. Parents can give children their own phrases, set up spending allowances and monitor purchases with the service.
Amazon.com is trying to catch up with PayPal, which is more widely adopted across the Web, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. About 34% of consumers plan to use eBay Inc.'s payment service for online purchases this holiday season, compared with 5.5% for Amazon and 1.8% for Google Checkout, according to the study. For all other purchases, people enter debit and credit card numbers directly at Web sites.
PayPal estimates that it handles 9% of online retail payments globally through sites such as Walmart.com. Less than half of its transaction volume comes from eBay. Amazon does not disclose how much of its payment volume comes from third-party sites.
Amazon and PayPal make money by charging a fee and taking a percentage of every transaction, though they must also pay card processing fees.
"The uphill battle is being everywhere our customers want us to be," said Matt Williams, the general manager of Amazon PayPhrase. "With PayPhrase, that's something we're hitting on the head."