Google's reportedly working with a small number of pilot retailers including Macy's and buttons will appear with a small percentage of commercial search traffic. Though the product may be fulfilled by retailers, Google will own the landing page and checkout experience.
What Google entering mobile commerce means to merchants
While this could be an exciting new ad format and customer acquisition tactic for retailers, and though it affects only paid search results, it's a major threat to a brand's relationship with its customer. Handing over customer experience to Google eliminates the ability to cross-sell, upsell, surprise and delight and build an email or social list to remarket to.
This is, at least for now, a pilot. Like Facebook and Twitter, Google wants to experiment with direct calls to action in the mobile stream. Consumers will vote with their actions whether it's a hit or miss, and ultimately it's Google's ball to drop if the experience is bad, or if retailers don't see good ROI.
Google's move does highlight some trends that merchants should consider:
1. Mobile is its own animal
Mobile use context and user goals are not always identical to desktop, and warrant their own user experiences. Cutting out steps and points of friction, whether in the search experience on on your own website, and rethinking design and process is worth time, attention and testing.
2. It's not all about your website
Google, Facebook and Twitter all believe that purchase decisions can be made without viewing a product page. Merchandising beyond the storefront is a mobile and social reality, and the puck is moving towards online shopping happening directly through Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and now Google Search.
Michael Kors' #Instakors campaign sends fans directly to product pages
As microblogging is to blogging, micromarketing is to mobile commerce. Think about how this impacts your business and how you will take advantage of this as the trend becomes convention.
3. Becoming a destination is the goal
Google owns search platform, it just lets you play in the sandbox. It's earned its users' trust as a destination, and now perhaps it will be successful as a shopping platform (and your competitor).
What is your business doing to become a destination in its own right? A site or app that customers launch without going to search, Amazon or similar marketplaces, social networks or shopping engines? An Instagram presence that customers consult first? A trusted content resource?
Don't be disrupted by disruption. Think ahead.
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