It’s official. Google has unveiled its much-rumored “buy button” -- except it’s called Purchases on Google. The company is testing the concept but is clearly expecting big things.
What’s the big deal? U.S. retailers’ conversion rates on desktop computers are twice as high as they are on mobile, according to aggregated data from Google Analytics for the U.S. retail vertical. That stat inspired Google to work on newfangled technology to help retailers drive higher conversion rates on mobile devices.
“When a shopper searches on mobile for a product such as ‘women's hoodies,’ she may see a shopping ad with 'Buy on Google' text,” said Jonathan Alferness (pictured above), vice president of product management for Google Shopping. “After clicking the ad, she's taken to a retailer-branded product page hosted by Google. Checkout is seamless, simple, and secure, thanks to saved payment credentials in her Google account.”
That’s how it would work in a perfect world, but it may not always be so smooth in reality, at least not at first. We caught up with Greg Sterling, vice president of strategies & insights for the Local Search Association, to get his thoughts on Purchases on Google. He told us this technology will give Google another analytics tool and it may give the company another way to charge for advertising.
“If Google drives a sales lead to a landing page from that buy button it’s hypothetically worth more than clicks. That’s speculation on my part,” Sterling said. “It will also give Google some additional data about user behavior to some degree.”
Still, Sterling said it remains to be determined if people will buy goods directly through buy buttons in search results -- unless they're searching for things they’ve already decided to buy.
“There’s a process people need to go through to make a decision. Usually there’s some research and comparison. It’s not likely that people will buy things on impulse, which is sort of what the buy button implies,” Sterling said. “People may show up after having done that research, search for items, use the buy button and go to the retailer’s site and buy. But that behavior doesn’t really exist right now.”
Big Brand Endorsements
Google has partnered with global retailers for the launch, including eBay, Flipkart and Zalando, to add deep links to their apps in their shopping ads. The idea is to drive consumers to the retailers' mobile apps instead of their Web sites. The ultimate goal, again, is to simplify the checkout process and increase conversions.
“Participating retailers only pay for clicks on the shopping ads to the product page; all clicks and interactions on the product page are free,” Alferness explained. “While Google hosts the product page and provides purchase protection for customers, retailers own the customer communication and can offer customers the option to receive marketing and promotional messages.”
Google has received some early endorsements for its buy button. Shop.org chairman Peter Cobb, who is also the executive vice president of marketing at eBags, said he's certain customers increasingly want to shop on their own terms. Purchases on Google “facilitates that flexibility while maintaining the merchant’s ability to own the customer relationship," Cobb said.
Faisal Masud, executive vice president of global e-commerce at Staples, said the new tool will “simplify our customers’ ability to search for items on Google and then buy with Staples.” And Jason LaRose, chief revenue officer, digital at Under Armour, said Google is helping the company “reduce friction and enhance the user experience with our brand.”