Buy Buttons: What They Are and How They Work

Learn about this important e-commerce feature

Internet retailers are always looking for ways to make the shopping experience quicker and easier for customers, and the "buy button" is one part of that strategy.

Buy buttons represent immediate e-commerce gratification. When you select a buy button, which may say "Buy," "Buy Now," or some variant, you bypass the shopping cart and checkout process. You authorize the purchase, and the merchant will immediately start fulfilling your order.

Here's a look at buy buttons, how to use them, and what to look out for when making that immediate purchase decision.

Buy Buttons Are Designed to Get Your Attention
ewg3D / Getty Images

What Is a Buy Now Button?

Since the dawn of e-commerce, merchants have presented us with a process that mimics real life. In a brick-and-mortar store, once you've selected your items, you place them in a shopping cart or basket and head to the checkout line.

Many online merchants now offer buy buttons that bypass this traditional process. Their e-commerce systems already store your shipping address, billing address, and payment information. They have all the information they need to process your requested transaction immediately.

Why Would a Consumer Use a Buy Now Button?

Buy now buttons are great for retailers, but are they helpful for consumers? While some users prefer to mull a purchase, others want to buy only what they need and then move on. When you're in a shopping cart, you may be tempted by product listings under headers such as "Others also purchased these items."

When shopping on a mobile device, buy buttons are a quick and easy way to make a purchase with a single tap.

Examples of Buy Now Buttons

Here's a look at some examples of how e-commerce websites use buy now buttons.

Amazon

Amazon's Buy Now buttons are familiar and frequently used. They are located below the Add to Cart option, so be careful to select the right buying option for your needs.

Amazon's "Buy Now" Button

If you select Add to Cart, you'll get a confirmation screen and notice that your cart now has one or more items, depending on how many you added and how many were there before.

In contrast, if you select Buy Now, you'll see a screen confirming your shipping and payment information. Select Place your order, and you've purchased your item.

When You "Buy Now," There's No Lengthy Checkout Process

Audible

Audible uses the same Buy Now label as its parent company, Amazon. In fact, Buy Now is the primary option you have with Audible, and the first option you'll see when browsing available titles.

Audible Lists Its "Buy Now" Buttons First, Prompting You to Purchase

Social Media Buy Buttons

Be wary of buy now or "shop now" buttons on social media sites. Instead of immediately making a purchase, these buttons forward you to shopping sites containing the pictured product.

Some "Buy Now"-Style Buttons on Social Media Can Be Suspect

While these can lead to some great buys, some lead to scams. Consider the example in the above screenshot. This is a small, "netbook"-style machine retailing for around $800 on Amazon and other retailers, but this promotion shows a price of $69.99. This is likely too good to be true, and you're better off avoiding it altogether.

Use Buy Buttons Wisely

Ultimately, "Buy Now" buttons are shortcuts that allow you to purchase items immediately. If you have an account with the retailer, and have payment and shipment information saved, it's easy to skip the shopping cart and buy your item with one click.

Buy now buttons help you bypass other promotions that might lead to impulse buys, but they also take away your chance to really think through your current purchase. Use them wisely!