Next time you search Google for a laptop, your favourite lipstick or a household gadget you may be able to purchase these items without ever logging on to some site.
Google recently announced a new feature called Purchases on Google, which will make it easier for consumers to buy products directly from mobile search ads. The buttons, which will take shoppers to another Google product page where they can actually make a purchase, will first appear on searches performed on mobile devices, according to the report by Wall Street Journal.
The new feature entails that consumers will see a “buy” button in some promoted mobile search results. When a user clicks the “buy” button they’ll be brought to a page where they can purchase the product advertised. Purchases would still be made from the original retailer, and Google won’t reportedly receive any commission, but it has been designed to streamline the process.
Google is testing the feature with about a dozen retail partners now and plans to roll out the service throughout the US between late 2015 and early 2016.
The merchants will still handle the actual product fulfillment, although the pages will be hosted by Google. The company emphasized that it’s trying to reduce the friction in mobile purchases without interfering in the relationship between merchants and consumers. That’s why the purchase page will carry the merchant’s branding, and if the product isn’t exactly what the shopper is looking for, they’ll even be able to search for other products.
However, where some feel that the feature will be convenient and useful for consumers, it’s not as favorable as for online retailers. Buying directly from Google means consumers potentially don’t visit retailer sites, reducing customer stickiness. It also means Google has access to data about the customer that a retailer doesn’t.
Another disadvantage is that Google’s listings simply can’t represent every feature of a product. Without the detailed descriptions, reviews, related products, specifications, photos and other information available on a retailer’s own site, it can be tougher to make an impulse purchase decision, potentially reducing people’s willingness to buy.
This points to a strategic play for Google that is similar to Facebook’s recent moves. Facebook is working to act as a platform for partner brands’ content, and Google is working to act as a platform for partner brands’ transactions. In both cases, the user sees a faster and more consistent mobile web experience, but reduced interaction with brands.
This all points to a future where major online brands no longer have a web presence of their own. With content spread across Facebook, YouTube and Medium, with transactions on Amazon and Google, and with a consistent brand across all those platforms, maybe owned media properties are no longer necessary.
Source: Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch and Marketing Magazine UK