The Wall Street Journal recently reported Google is getting ready to launch a buy button. It will be associated with mobile “Shop on Google” section paid links and take users to a Google page, where the shopper can complete the purchase, all revenue and profit going to the retailer (for now). What do you think? Is this a good idea? Bad idea? How will it affect e-commerce companies and retailers in general? A few thoughts …
My first reaction: Jumping into e-commerce has disaster written all over it —for Google. The essence of e-commerce is unparalleled UX, an area in which Google is not particularly adept. It couldn’t make Google Plus fly with a computer-savvy user base; how is it going to succeed with a general audience?
On the other hand, if retailers want to stay connected with their customers, and not be forced into a solely fulfillment role, they would be well advised to ponder the condition of their own UX and branding. If Google is successful in diverting conversions its way (and if not Google, Facebook, Twitter or another enterprise attempting to do the same thing), consumers will begin not to care which retailer handles the transaction; in fact, the whole concept of “retailer” may cease to have meaning. This is already happening; after all, when you buy pet food on Amazon do you really care whether it comes from Petco or PetSmart or Amazon’s own inventory?
To keep consumers interested in their brands and buying directly from them, retailers must give them reasons to buy that go far beyond the product or service. Loyalty programs, contests, extremely active social media engagement, cause marketing — these will become much more important in the grand marketing scheme of things.
Delivering top-shelf UX is essential for retailer websites, especially to mobile users. Without that, and assuming Google delivers a decent UX, the Google buy button begins to look awfully enticing.
If Google’s long-term strategy is to be a storefront and rely on its paid search advertisers’ infrastructures for fulfillment, it will have a major advantage over Amazon, a company that has invested billions in infrastructure and eats billions in freight charges . On the other hand, relying on the fulfillment infrastructure of its retail base also means inconsistency in packaging, delivery time, accuracy and other important fulfillment metrics. This could drive consumers right back to retailer websites.
What are your thoughts on the Google buy button? How do you see this changing your approach to marketing?