According to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal, Google is planning to roll out new ‘buy’ buttons, which will appear alongside sponsored search results on mobile devices. The new development appears to be part of Google’s plans for expansion into the mobile retail marketplace and will place it in direct competition with online shopping giants Amazon and eBay.
The move represents a major departure for the internet search giant. At the moment, all Google does is provide the search technology to allow users to find the products they want to buy. Google offers up a series of links directing the customer to a retailer. With the addition of a ‘buy’ button to the sponsored mobile search results a customer can click on a suitable product, Google takes the payment, and then passes on the order and the money to the retailer’s website.
Buy buttons will only show up on Google shopping pages and only if the user is searching for a product on a mobile device – although this may change in the future. If the user clicks the ‘buy’ button next to a product, instead of being directed to the retailer’s website, they will be directed to a Google product page instead. From here they will be able to select the type, colour, size, etc., of the product they want to buy before completing the transaction.
Google will take the payment information and pass it along to the retailer, but if the customer ‘opts in’ to further marketing, Google will pass on their contact details so the retailer can send them marketing materials at a later date. Google won’t charge for the service. Instead they will continue to collect revenue via the existing advertising model.
The introduction of ‘buy’ buttons changes the online shopping landscape completely. Instead of driving traffic, Google is slowly changing into a retail marketplace, which puts it in direct competition with Amazon and eBay. Right now Google can’t offer anywhere near the same level of service as Amazon or eBay, both of which combine search and buy functions, but it looks like it wants to close the gap.
Many retailers are uneasy about this latest development. Google is doing its best to allay retailer’s fears by promising to include retailer branding on product pages and pass on customer contact information. The arrangement should also improve sales on mobile devices. However, some are concerned that they will be assimilated into the Google brand, which will weaken their relationships with customers.
Mobile searches are becoming increasingly important. The problem with mobile shopping is that it is not as easy because screen sizes are smaller and the whole experience of entering payment information can be fiddly and less secure. The addition of ‘buy’ buttons to sponsored mobile searches is potentially a boon for consumers and it might even increase mobile sales for retailers, but only time will tell.
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