Last year, $1 trillion (or 28% all U.S. in-store sales) were influenced by mobile devices — both before and during shopping trips. $1 trillion is a significant amount of buying power, which Google is helping local businesses better leverage mobile with a “Buy Now” button (official name: Purchases on Google). The Google Buy Now button will let users make a purchase directly from search results vs. leaving Google and going to a third-party (retailer’s) site.
If you choose to use Purchases for Google, you’ll benefit from higher mobile conversions because of the simplified checkout process that the feature offers. For local businesses that don’t have e-commerce capabilities (or even those that do), the Buy Now button eliminates the need for an e-commerce optimized website because Google handles the entire transaction on the product page. Best of all, you manage the customer communication and offers associated with your product, so your brand remains in your control. Google is simply hosting your product page and providing purchasing protection for customers (much like credit card companies) — you, retailers own the customer communication and can offer customers the option to receive marketing and promotional messages.
“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.” says, Peter Cobb, eBags Marketing EVP and Shop.org Chairman
The goal of the Google Buy Now button is not to compete with retailers (Google has said this isn’t their goal), but rather to help increase the mobile conversion rate for businesses. We all know that Google is a leader when it comes to knowing what technology is capable of doing — and what it will be doing five years from now. The Google Buy Now button, which is used in search ads, is the latest launch from the technology giant that pushes the envelope in order to boost the conversion of mobile for retailers.
If you’re wondering why Google cares if mobile converts or not for other businesses, you have to remember the source of Google’s revenue is ads. By having a better mobile conversion rate, Google is giving both the user and the advertiser what they want: a seamless journey from research to purchase.
The Buy Now button will also give Google a competitive edge over other advertising platforms, especially if the feature helps increase conversion rates for retailers.
A seamless shopping experience for mobile searchers
Google has slowly been testing out the “Buy Now” button with a few retailers (Staples and Under Armor are both partners) so that they can work out the bugs associated with the new feature. Google understands the impact of mobile, especially considering 50% + of searches now happen on mobile devices — yet a lot of retailers don’t yet know how to harness this powerful platform. Purchases on Google gives local businesses with the ability to capitalize on mobile, while maintaining control of their brand.
“As the consumer continues to rapidly adopt mobile as their primary device, we have to move at a similar pace in how we reduce purchase friction and enhance the user experience with our brand. Google’s technology solutions help us innovate, so our collaborative efforts are rich and ongoing.” says, Jason LaRose, Chief Revenue Officer, Digital at Under Armour
Giving local businesses new capabilities
It’s no secret that local businesses tend to serve a specific area — it’s inherent to who they are. However, the Google Buy Now button gives local businesses the capability to sell their product to customers outside of their service area. For example, if I am searching for a coffee maker on Google on my iPhone (and I am only looking to buy the lowest priced product), if your business is using Purchases on Google and has the lowest price, it’s irrelevant to me if you’re located two blocks from me or 200 miles from me. Furthermore, I don’t need to be familiar with your business because the transaction is conducted exclusively on Google, a company I’m aware of and trust.
“Purchases on Google will simplify our customers’ ability to search for items on Google and then buy with Staples.” said Faisal Masud, Executive Vice President of Global E-Commerce, Staples, Inc. “Working with Google on this offering will make the discovery and purchase process even easier for the customers we serve, with the power of both of our companies behind it.”
When a consumer searches on mobile for a product on Google they may see an ad with “Buy on Google” text in it. If they click on this ad they will be taken to a retailer branded product page, hosted by Google (keeping a common theme on each page). They can then checkout on that Google landing page. Not only does this simplify the mobile checkout process for the customer, but since the purchase is managed by Google, a customer unfamiliar with your business is more likely to complete the transaction because they trust Google.
Google isn’t just creating a “Buy Now” button, either. The technology giant is testing multiple variations of the button and learning which works best on different types of mobile devices (perhaps Android users prefer “Buy Now,” while iPhone users like “Complete Your Purchase”).
Google has also been working with eBay, Flipkart and Zalando to integrate their shopping cart apps directly into Google’s search ads, driving customers straight to their mobile apps (vs. their websites). By taking customers directly to a mobile app, Google is eliminating extra steps and confusion that often come with mobile sites. The downside of this strategy is that if consumers don’t have the retailer’s mobile app, this “shortcut” to a sale won’t work correctly.
My few final thoughts
I mentioned earlier that Google has gone on record saying that the Buy Now button is not meant to compete with retailers, rather help them increase their AdWords conversion rates and sell more products to mobile customers. The flood of products for retailers that Google now offers, combined with the shift in search away from desktop and toward mobile (all of which are based around comprehensive research done by the tech giant), give us some insights into where Google thinks the market is moving. Clearly, Google believes that there are significant growth opportunities for local businesses and retailers in the world of mobile.
Small businesses shouldn’t be concerned about Google as a competitor, rather they should be taking advantage of all the mobile offerings the tech giant has created for them. However, there is one retailer in particular that should be concerned about Purchases on Google: Amazon. While Google’s strategy surrounding retail differs from Amazon’s, I’m sure the Google Buy Now button got the attention of Jeff Bezos. It’s no secret that Amazon is Google’s largest search competitor and, perhaps, the Buy Now button’s purpose is to take back a chunk of that search volume from Amazon.
Whoever wins or loses in the search engine traffic game, there is one clear winner from the get-go: local businesses. For Google to be successful, they need their customers (a.k.a.: you) to be successful and they are providing retailers with very creative and innovative ways to help your business grow. The Google Buy Now button is one step you can take to drive more mobile conversions and win more customers.