Apparently looking to move in on territory dominated by Amazon and eBay, Google is reportedly planning to launch a "buy" button for mobile searches in the coming weeks. The news indicates that Google has ambitions not just in online search but in the online marketplace sphere as well.
The buy button will reportedly show up along with sponsored ads that appear at the top of Google's search results on mobile devices. While the button will take users to Google product pages, retailers -- and not Google -- will be responsible for providing any actual items sold.
"The move marks a major and potentially risky strategy shift that will turn the company into more of an online transactional business, rather than simply a provider of links to information elsewhere on the Internet," according to the Wall Street Journal, which reported the story Friday.
Retail Shoppers Split Between Desktop, Mobile
We reached out to Google to learn more about its plans, but a spokesperson told us that the company had no comment at this time.
Retail activity online is about evenly split between desktops and mobile device, according to a report published in March by the digital analyst firm comScore. The U.S. Digital Future in Focus 2015 report found that users access retail sites from their desktops 51 percent of time, compared to 49 percent of the time via mobile devices.
Google sites sit at the top of the digital media heap in the U.S., with an audience of 238 million unique visitors -- 94 percent of all Internet users in the U.S. -- in December 2014, the report noted. After Google sites, the leaders were Yahoo sites, Facebook, AOL and, in fifth place, Amazon sites.
Google To Retain Payment Details
The Wall Street Journal cited "people familiar with the launch" as saying that Google was in talks with retailers such as Macy's ahead of the buy button debut.
Some retailers that asked not to be publicly identified told the newspaper that they are concerned that Google's move could mark a shift in which its product search results would turn it into an online marketplace selling products directly from Google rather than from retail partners or advertisers.
Google reportedly will ensure that online shoppers who opt in will still provide their customer information to retailers. However, as part of the buy button plan Google will handle and store customers' payment details, enabling users to make future purchases on Google without having to re-input that information.
Amazon reported net sales of $88.99 billion in fiscal year 2014, while eBay had 2014 net revenues of $17.9 billion. Google's revenues for 2014 were $66 billion.