Shop.com customers asked to check out using their Bitcoin wallet or other cryptocurrencies. Now they can with BitPay, a bitcoin payment service provider.
“We had responses coming into our customer service [department] and our customer feedback reports indicated shoppers wanted to pay with cryptocurrency,” says Steve Ashley, president and chief operating officer of Shop.com, which is owned by Market America, No. 79 in Digital Commerce 360’s Top 1000. “[Offering cryptocurrency as a payment option] was something we were already interested in. It just made sense to do it.”
Based on this customer feedback, Ashley estimates about a quarter of Shop.com’s customers are interested in paying with cryptocurrency. Shop.com anticipates cryptocurrency becoming more mainstream, and the retailer is offering this payment option for that interested segment of shoppers.
“About 20% to 25% of our current customers are very interested in cryptocurrency—but it’s about that other 75% you want to engage as well,” Ashley says. “That 25% has been involved and buying and selling it for years, so they’re very engaged as far as what’s happening on the blogs and NFTs (nonfungible tokens), CNBC, etc.”
Shop.com customers aren’t the only ones interested in paying with cryptocurrency. A global survey of more than 6,300 consumers found that 45% of people plan to use cryptocurrencies soon, according to a report published by technology consultancy Capgemini SE in October 2021.
BitPay charges retailers a 1% per transaction fee, which is cheaper than it would have been for Shop.com to build a cryptocurrency processer in-house, Ashley says. “That’s less than what we pay on credit card transactions as a company. When BitPay said a 1% flat rate, I had to ask multiple times to make sure it was a true flat rate in any scenario,” Ashley says. “We were ready and excited to take on the challenge of building it in-house, but when you have a partner who is offering you this rate—it really was a no-brainer for us.”
It took about six to seven weeks to integrate BitPay into Shop.com’s website. Since launching in September, “initial results have been good,” Ashley says. “Lots of click-throughs at checkout for customers interested in learning more about the processor.”
Now, when shoppers go to check out they will see a BitPay option offered. Shoppers click on BitPay, and then Shop.com redirects them to a BitPay window where they complete the transaction. After shoppers hit submit, BitPay sends shoppers back to Shop.com to hit confirm and purchase. This is similar to how shoppers check out using PayPal on Shop.com, Ashley says. Shop.com also offers videos for shoppers interested in learning more about using BitPay on its site.
“Average order value has been higher than ‘normal,'” Ashley says. “It’s still really early—electronics and organic foods have been popular checkout categories.” Digital Commerce 360 estimates Market America’s AOV was $160 in 2020.
Cryptocurrency isn’t new—in 2009, Bitcoin was released as an open-source software, the first decentralized cryptocurrency. A blockchain is a record-keeping technology for the Bitcoin network. The person mining whichever token receives a small mining fee each time a transaction occurs on the blockchain.
At check out, shoppers select the proper BitPay wallet (BitPay, Coinbase, Blockchain Wallet, Electrum Wallet, Copay, BRD tabaWallet, Electron Cash, etc.), and specify from the following currency options: Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Case (BCH), Ethereum (ETH), Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC), Dogecoin (DOGE), Litecoin (LTC) and 5 USD-pegged stablecoins (GUSD, USDC, PAX, DAI and BUSD). Then, shoppers scan the QR code within their BitPay app or Pay in Wallet to complete the purchase.
“[The mining fee is] a small fee that’s accepted right now for people buying products using cryptocurrency,” Ashley says. “There is a learning curve with crypto. It’s going to be about educating our current customers in addition to the new segment of individuals we’re going to get as a result of offering cryptocurrencies as a form of payment.”
To better understand cryptocurrency users, Shop.com is devoting time and resources to joining online communities on social platforms like Reddit and Discord. “These communities are close-knit but also are forthcoming about what they are looking for,” Ashley says. “Once you find out what they want, you can go out and find it for them. Each type of crypto coin is different and while these communities are similar, there are differences. You have to be authentic and very engaged with each community.”
Shop.com’s focus on cryptocurrency is echoed by recent crypto job postings by Amazon and Walmart. Both merchants have posted job listings for digital currency/blockchain and cryptocurrency product leads in recent weeks, an indication that understanding and offering cryptocurrency transactions is of interest.
But, Shop.com’s motivation for offering BitPay was about responding to customer feedback. “We didn’t make this decision [to offering cryptocurrency payment at checkout] based on what other retailers are doing,” Ashley says. “We read the industry and realized that people have been building up crypto not just as an asset, but also to transact with it and to bank with it through staking and all these other different avenues. This is the new banking ecosystem.”
Shop.com plans to continue deploying cryptocurrency payment capabilities in phases every three to six months. “We realized that unless we at least start allowing people to first and foremost be able to transact using their own cryptocurrency on our site, there would be no other way for us to tap into that market,” Ashley says.
The future of cryptocurrency in the US
As cryptocurrency becomes more mainstream, Ashley hopes payment vendors will be able to automatically distinguish Bitcoin versus Ethereum versus Dogecoin or any other cryptocurrency. This will make the payment process easier, he says, as now shoppers have to make sure they are using the right wallet address depending on the type of crypto they’re using to pay.
“That will be the real game-changer when transactions are easily converted—that’s what will help get beginners or new adopters to pay with crypto,” he says.
Ashley anticipates an increase in competition among payment vendors to accept cryptocurrency. Visa recently announced plans for a Universal Payment Channel, allowing payment with cryptocurrencies using multiple blockchain networks.
The S.E.C.’s approval of exchange-traded funds (ETF) to track stocks with significant exposure—such as Twitter and Tesla—to Bitcoin, has merchants planning for the future. “[The S.E.C. decision] reinforces what we’re doing and the direction that we’re going into over the next 10 to 15 years,” Ashley says. Both China and the U.S. are currently investigating digital yuan or digital dollars as part of Govcoins. Govcoins are government-backed digital currencies.
While reinforcement stateside is reassuring, Ashley says that developments in China are important to monitor for the global brand. “We are an international brand and we’ve had to see how China’s ban on cryptocurrency impacts our markets, one of which is Taiwan,” he says. “We’ve had to keep track of Hong Kong and Singapore and consider the different rules for crypto. For example, in Singapore, you have to apply for licensing to offer cryptocurrency on your site.”Favorite