There is a sharp divide between consumer mobile browsing and buying behavior. Recent ComScore research shows that more than 60 percent of all online retail browsing and product comparisons occur on phones and tablets, but the Custora eCommerce Pulse reports conversion rates on mobile devices at only 30 percent. In the quest to streamline the mobile shopping experience, Google’s Buy Button may be the most significant advance yet. First announced in summer of 2015, the Buy Button will initially appear next to product listing ads in mobile search engine results.
According to a WSJ article, “Google…is adding a buy button to reduce friction for users on mobile devices, increasing the chances that they will make a purchase.” Rather than visiting a retail site, shoppers who tap the Buy Button will be taken to a Google product page. There they can select options like size or color and use shipping and payment information stored by Google, who then sends the order to the retailer to complete the transaction. This eliminates the time and effort required to navigate a website and enter checkout information–bypassing the step where many mobile shoppers lose interest.
The gap between the convenience of mobile browsing and the tedium of mobile purchasing will be closed. Faster checkout and an increased amount of mobile-friendly content from retailers will create a more enjoyable shopping experience.
This makes it reasonable to expect consumer behavior in near future to trend towards more mobile purchases than in recent years.
This more efficient buying process could mean increased conversions for retailers. It would also require retailers to step up their marketing game in order to earn customer loyalty amid increasing competition.
A recent Shop.org and Forrester Research survey indicates that smartphone sales accounted for 17 percent of total retail sales in 2015, and that sales from smartphone devices grew 53 percent year-over-year. So while retailers should already be paying serious attention to optimizing their mobile presence and improving their search position rankings, the Buy Button will all but make it a necessity.
It may also affect the volume of organic site visits and those generated by Pay per Click (PPC) campaigns. With the advent of the Buy Button, retailers may see a drop in both forms of traffic, though with an increase in total sales.
The Google Buy Button could also benefit smaller advertisers, not just major brands. By acting as the platform for purchase rather than just offering a link, Google offers a tacit level of trustworthiness and essentially endorses the retailer, which will benefit smaller companies who don’t have the resources that larger names do.
A streamlined mobile shopping experience can only make a consumer’s life easier. For businesses however, things are less certain. Will smaller companies be able to edge out larger ones because the Buy Button could render the flare of an expensive website moot? Or will bigger companies that can afford a higher cost per click beat out smaller competitors by investing more in early stages of the buying process?
What about Google’s relationship with retailers? Google insists that it is not trying to compete with them–though it will charge a small fee for the service–but only improve the way shoppers and retailers interact online.
One assumption is that the Buy Button, by making conversions easier, will secure Google’s primacy in the search engine and product research game. This is likely, as Google is also competing with social channels like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter for eCommerce traffic.
The real impact of the Buy Button will only be seen in time. What we do know is that the way commerce is conducted on mobile devices is about to undergo a profound change.