Conducting business is generally a simple concept. A business offers a product or service to another party that wants to consume that product or service, which typically requires the exchange of some sort of payment. Then contracts are injected into the process, and with them comes lots of complications and friction points: preparing the contract, negotiating the contract, signing the contract, keeping records of the contract, etc.

Most businesses and consumers would be perfectly happy without contracts, but that is never going to happen (at least not while lawyers are around). Contracts exist for good reason too – they properly define business terms and hopefully prevent lawsuits. Since we will never eliminate contracts, we should instead strive to make them as frictionless as possible. Less friction in the contracting process means a faster pace of business, can reduce administrative overhead, and can even reduce the risk inherent in clunky, manual processes – all of which allows business to make more money in a shorter period of time.

Often businesses equate paperless, eSignature driven contracting processes with more frictionless contracting, and to an extent they are correct. Statistics have shown that using eSignatures can speed up turnaround time on obtaining contract signatures by 80% – that is pretty significant. But there is a better way, and it’s already arguably the most prolific form of contracting on the planet – the purely digital “clickwrap” agreement. You’ve probably accepted a contract multiple times per week by checking a box, or clicking a button online. Those are clickwrap agreements, and they have revolutionized a business’s legal interactions with its customers.

Think about it. How many times have you accepted legal terms buying something on Amazon?  And it’s not just a B2C phenomenon. What about buying software licenses on CDW.com for your small business? Same thing, you are clicking to accept license agreement, terms of service, and all sorts of other legal terms.

What makes these clickwrap agreements special is a combination of things. First, they are integrated nearly seamlessly into the customer’s digital experience. There is no disruption or slowdown to print out a contract or apply a squiggly black line signature. Second, presenting, accepting and recordkeeping is all (hopefully) done in a uniform, automated manner. Third, and probably most importantly, is how the flow of commerce is dictating the contracting process, rather than the other way around.

Just how effective is a clickwrap agreement? One need look no further than how the leading eSignature service providers sign up their own customers. Not by using their own eSignature products, but by instead using a clickwrap agreement in an online registration form.

Of course, customers need to know the contracts exist and have an opportunity to review and accept them, just like any other type of contract. Businesses can get tripped up by trying to sneak contracts into online purchase and registration flows, and may often overlook implementing solid recordkeeping processes. With a carefully designed system that embraces all the benefits of clickwrap contracting, businesses can easily streamline their contracting processes and save lots of money in the process.

Every business is gradually becoming a technology company. As more and more business processes become digital, businesses need to embrace purely digital forms of contracting that can be easily molded around other primary business processes. By embracing systems that employ easily embeddable and configurable clickwrap agreements, contracting processes can not only achieve a truly frictionless state, but also become a seamless part of the customer experience.

Brian Powers is the founder and CEO of PactSafe.

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