In Depth

 Why Google’s Buy Button Isn’t About The “Buy”

Another day, another buy button.

It’s not that buy buttons aren’t cool, but it just feels like these days everyone’s got one. There are “proprietary” buy buttons. Facebook put one in Messenger and has added one for ads in the News Feed. Twitter has one. Pinterest has one. Snapchat has one. Amazon had one before we even knew what to call it. And, then there are general purpose buy buttons like PayPal and Visa Checkout. And digital wallets that are buy buttons, too, in mobile apps.

And, yesterday, Google announced it was launching its own.

But, at least for now, Google’s buy button isn’t about payment, but rather about removing the friction associated with getting consumers from a product search to the merchant site where it can be purchased in the swiftest fashion possible.

“Buying is the last part of shopping,” a Google executive said at a briefing yesterday on the topic.

Google’s buy button is a part of a larger effort being launched called Purchase on Google – an effort designed to help retailers “make the world your storefront.”

The service will allow mobile customers to click ads that move users from a search page to a retailer-branded product page on the Google site. The friction that this eliminates is to give customers the ability to both get additional product information and finish off their shopping experience by making a purchase. The goal is conversions; if a consumer wants to use Android Pay to pay they can, but it’s not required.

The new program currently has a limited scope; over the next several weeks, about a dozen merchants in the U.S. will roll out ads featuring buy buttons. For the time being, purchases will only be an option for U.S.-based consumers.

This is one of slew of features Google is rolling out that helps retailers leverage the power of mobile as it blurs the line between online and offline shopping. Other services include conversational search for Google’s shopping feature and a Google Now Card that will inform consumers when an oft-searched item sees a big price drop, as well as services that help retailers better align digital ad spending with physical store conversions.

Google is also beefing up its contributions to real world shopping with Google Now cards directing consumers to local loyalty programs and sales. The search giant is also expanding its product review offerings and tying in a variety of retail enabling data(store geometry, Wi-Fi, location) to help consumers navigate their shopping experience with ease while also guiding consumers to their retail destination, whether it is online or Main Street.

“Fewer people wait to head to the mall on Saturday to go shopping,” Google said. “Thanks to smartphones, shopping now happens anytime and anywhere.”

Yet, one of the most popular search terms that Google has observed since 2013 is “near me” — a nod to the immediacy associated with searching on a mobile device. Google’s retail portfolio is intended to help retailers capitalize on those “in the moment” searches and drive foot traffic into stores to convert shoppers into buyers.

So, the headlines may be all about the “buy button” from Google, but they may just be burying the lead.

Google really isn’t about building buy buttons, it’s about building a mobile shopping platform that rings the registers for merchants and keeps consumers buying.




The PYMNTS Cross-Border Merchant Friction Index analyzes the key friction points experienced by consumers browsing, shopping and paying for purchases on international eCommerce sites. PYMNTS examined the checkout processes of 266 B2B and B2C eCommerce sites across 12 industries and operating from locations across Europe and the United States to provide a comprehensive overview of their checkout offerings.

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