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Could Google's new Buy button transform the ecommerce landscape?

First came "mobilegeddon", and now Google has confirmed its plans to introduce a ‘Buy’ button to product-related mobile search results. Some foresee challenges for ecommerce sites, but the move also presents some exciting opportunities for retailers.

How it works

Details released so far suggest that Google has opted for a soft launch, initially introducing the Buy button solely on mobile searches. What’s more, when a user searches for a product on their mobile, the button will only appear next to sponsored search results, displayed under the "Shop on Google" banner.

The button’s functionality, though, is bolder. When users click the Buy button, they’ll be directed to a Google product page – not the retailer’s site – to make the purchase. Google will handle the order details and transaction, before passing the relevant details on to retailers to fulfil the order.

The opportunity

The latest data from MarketLive indicates that mobile devices accounted for 41% of e-commerce traffic in Q1 2015, but generated just 26% of sales. This trend appears to reflect retailers’ struggle to create fully optimised, user-friendly m-commerce sites that successfully drive conversions. Although consumers may start their search on mobile, the tendency is to abandon a purchase and complete on desktop – thereby avoiding clunky basket journeys and awkward UX elements. For retailers who aren't ready (or don't have the resources) to invest in a UX overhaul and develop a mobile-friendly online shop, Google suddenly looks like an excellent potential platform for sales – one that requires minimal investment and handles all the logistical leg-work of the transaction.

The cost

Retailers will need to carefully consider CRM in the context of Google Buy. The biggest concern is the Buy button’s potential positioning between consumers and retailers, with implications for customer relationships and loyalty.

However, indications suggest that Google’s purchase page will contain significant opportunity for customised retailer branding and data capture, such as newsletter sign-up. Although these could be key tools for a brand to connect with its customers and draw them into direct, ongoing relationships, businesses in their role as online retailers will still need to ensure that their own websites are engaging, user-friendly, geared for maximum conversion and, above all, desktop and mobile optimised.

However, indications suggest that Google’s purchase page will contain significant opportunity for customised retailer branding and data capture, such as newsletter sign-up. Although these could be key tools for a brand to connect with its customers and draw them into direct, ongoing relationships, businesses in their role as online retailers will still need to ensure that their own websites are engaging, user-friendly, geared for maximum conversion and, above all, desktop and mobile optimised.

Google's Buy button represents an additional option in the ever-growing list of brand touch points which need to be completely mined and co-ordinated via intelligent software like censhare. With it, any possible negative impact on organic traffic and data capture resulting from this innovation can be balanced against the opportunity to boost mobile sales.