Google's getting ready to face Amazon and eBay, according to The Wall Street Journal, and will be adding buy buttons directly to its search results. You'll see those buttons accompanying sponsored results under a "Shop on Google" heading -- they won't be used for non-sponsored links returned by the algorithm -- when you search for products on mobile devices. Upon clicking one, a separate product page will load where you can pick sizes, colors and ultimately complete your purchase. Any product you buy will still come straight from retailers, the WSJ says, so it doesn't sound like Google's stocking up warehouses with goods like Amazon does.
However, some major retailers are apparently worried that they'll get stuck with back-end order fulfillment with no real customer interaction. Since Google wants to remain in good terms with them (they are some of its largest advertisers, after all), it will give shoppers the choice subscribe to their marketing programs. That typically means mailing lists and the like, so the company's giving them access to customers' info, most likely names and addresses.
In addition, Google promised them that the product landing pages will be heavily branded with their names and will link to more of their products. The company also won't take a cut from their sales and will only get paid for every person that clicks their links. Mountain View will reportedly offer several payment options, "including digital payment methods from other providers," but it (thankfully) won't be giving retailers access to payment details. If you input credit card info to make a purchase, the website will save it for future transactions, but it will remain with the company.
As for why the feature will only be available on mobile, well, Google has a plethora of reasons. The biggest one is most likely the fact that more people now perform searches on their phones than on computers. According to the WSJ, you might spot a buy button or two as soon as the coming weeks. We don't have a list of official partners yet, since Google hasn't officially announced anything, but Macy's might be one of the first retailers available.
Even though more people are shopping on their phones, the majority aren’t making actual purchases on mobile. Google’s solution: sponsored, mobile-only “buy” buttons that keep people on Google rather than sending them back to the retailer’s check-out page. The idea: People will buy more with a seamless checkout than they would if forced to wait for a retailer’s page to load and then go through a less user-friendly checkout process.
With the addition of a buy button, Google Shopping would go from being a simple search engine to being more of a middle-man. However, unlike companies such as Amazon, Google would not get a share of the profit, but more a pay per click profit.
Mobile Commerce Increasing
According to an eMarketer retail sales report, retail mcommerce is rising rapidly, steadily gaining a larger share of overall ecommerce.
- In 2013, retail mcommerce—which includes products and services ordered on mobile devices, including tablets—increased 70.0% to reach $42.13 billion.
- In 2014 eMarketer estimates that figure will increase another 37.2% to total $57.79 billion, or about one-fifth of all retail ecommerce sales and 1.2% of total retail sales. In 2014, tablet sales will account for nearly two-thirds of mcommerce sales, eMarketer predicts, increasing to nearly 75% by the end of our forecast period.
- By the end of 2015, eMarketer estimates that total US retail mcommerce sales will reach $76.41 billion or 22% of total US ecommerce sales.
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As more consumers use their mobile devices to conduct online searches for product reviews and price comparisons using search engines and recommendations from friends on social networks, it makes sense to incorporate call-to-action motivators like buy buttons.
What does this mean for smaller ecommerce stores?
Of course, with the release of these rumors, many smaller ecommerce store owners are worried that this means they will see a dip in sales, as Google will provide linkage with large retailers instead of smaller companies. Rumors state that Macy’s is already in talks to join the new program,
Furthermore, many retailers are afraid that they will lose out on a very important customer relationship if everything is handled by Google.
What will Google do to calm the storm?
According to The Wall Street Journal, ecommerce store owners will be able to continue with the same marketing programs that they have running on their own sites, in other words this will allow retailers to get access to customer’s contact information, for future marketing purposes. Furthermore, Google will brand the product pages with links to the ecommerce store, finally sources state that recommendations for future purchases will only be shown from the retailer providing the product.
What is the upside?
One of the most difficult areas for ecommerce owners to succeed in is mobile sales, many ecommerce owners see much of their traffic coming from desktops, with the mobile purchase process still in its infancy.
According to research, many shoppers search for products on their smartphones, but then switch to their desktop computers to make the final purchase. One of the reasons for this is, that it is still relatively difficult to fill out a whole purchase form from a smartphone. However, if Google was to make the whole process more seamless, then perhaps retailers participating in Google’s buy now program would gain a major advantage as they would see mobile sales grow exponentially.
What is the downside?
Jason Goldberg, V.P. of Strategy at Razorfish says.
“While it’s a good feature, it definitely isn’t a no-brainer that all retailers should invest in because a whole set of issues can come with transactions on a third-party platform."
Other issues include Google’s sponsored ads might not be able to keep up with stock quantities or backorders and shoppers will be subjected to Google’s less specialized customer service.
Keeping Up With The Competition
In December 11, 2014, Facebook announced the addition of new "Call-To-Action" features to Facebook pages. This includes a "Shop Now" feature that will allow brands to convert fans into buyers from ads running in the newsfeed. On September 8, 2014, Twitter announced that it was testing "buy buttons" in tweets.
Twitter says artists, brands and non-profits taking part in the test include Burberry, DonorsChoose, Pharrel among other, and their followers will get offers and merchandise not available elsewhere. They can complete the transaction in a couple taps.
Courtesy of an article dated May 16, 2015 appearing in Engadget, an article dated May 24, 2015 appearing in EcommercePlatforms, an article dated April 10, 2014 appearing in eMarketer, and an article dated May 19, 2015 appearing in Digiday