3 Contract Acceptance Methods Defined and Compared

Aug 27, 2019 9:09:00 AM

Contract Acceptance Methods Blog

Esignature vs. Embedded Signing vs. Clickwrap

There are many ways to sign a document; each type of esignature method has a time and place for ideal use. The key to driving efficient contract workflows is both knowing which methods of acceptance to use and understanding how having multiple ways to sign a contract in your toolbox provides the most value. 

That’s right, there’s more than one way to sign a contract, but not all methods are good in every situation. 

To understand the best application for each type of signing method, one must first understand the fundamentals of the following three forms of acceptance: traditional esignature, embedded signing, and clickwrap. We’ll break each of these down and help you understand how design great experiences using any or all of these acceptance methods.

Traditional Esignature 

For the purposes of this comparison, we define traditional esignature as contract acceptance facilitated by emailing or delivering a 1:1 contract - usually as a PDF, often signed by typing, stamping, or drawing your signature. This type of acceptance has been around for years, and it is often used for non-standard, negotiated contracts that need some level of personalization.  

Embedded Signing 

One step beyond traditional eSignature is embedded signing or API signing. This method of capturing acceptance allows your users to accept signature requests on your website or in your app, usually embedded via JavaScript. An embedded contract can speed up the signing process by eliminating the need to upload, send, and sign individual contracts via email.

Although a typed or drawn signature may still be required, embedded signing is a great option for presenting standardized contracts to a broad range of users to enhance their signing experience.

Clickwrap 

With similar benefits to embedded signing -- i.e faster acceptance, reduced redlining, and better user experience -- clickwrap agreements are also a highly efficient way to accept certain types of agreements. Clickwrap agreements are also API driven and best used when the goal is to provide a fast, efficient signing experience for your customers or users.  

However, unlike embedded signing, clickwrap is a one-click experience that reduces friction in critical processes such as signup flows and ecommerce checkouts. Clickwrap agreements are considered the gold standard for agreements such as website terms, privacy policies, or EULAs, but are less likely to be used in place of traditional esignature.

Questions to ask when deciding best contract acceptance method for documents

When deciding which type(s) of acceptance to use in your business’ workflow, here are a few key questions to ask yourself:

  1. How many times will this document be signed in a year?
  2. Will this document be the same each time it is signed (standard) or will the terms and text change frequently (non-standard)?
  3. What is the value of this agreement? Is it worth redlining or do I want a “take it or leave it” kind of contract?
  4. Would our business benefit from allowing this contract to be signed within our website or mobile app?
  5. Will the volume of agreements be cost prohibitive for traditional esignature? That is, can I save money with embedded signing or clickwrap?

The following infographic should help you further identify which signing methods are best for your organization. 

standard v nonstandard contract acceptance
Image of non-standard and standard contract matrix

Once you’ve asked yourself these questions, you might find that you will need all three, each at different times. You might then find that an all-in-one solution is best for your needs. 

If you’re still not sure what acceptance methods are right for your business, that's ok! PactSafe’s team of legal and contract solutions consultants are well versed in designing optimized contract workflows for businesses of all types. Take a tour of our high-velocity acceptance platform or request a consultation.

Ashley Walsh

Written by Ashley Walsh

Ashley, the VP of Marketing at PactSafe, has more than 15 years experience leading high-performing marketing teams and scaling technology companies to meaningful outcomes.