ChannelAdvisor Participates in Purchases on Google Program

July 15, 2015

Google. Click. Buy.

The future is upon us.

Today on the AdWords blog, Google announced that shoppers will now be able to purchase items directly via Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs) from selected retailers when shopping on their mobile devices.

We have been working with Google on this initiative, coined “Purchases on Google,” and are excited by this development. We have long said that there is too much friction in the mobile buying experience and believe that Purchases on Google represents a significant advancement for consumers and a very real opportunity for retailers and brands.  As our customers in the experiment go live, we will be monitoring ROI very closely and will keep you updated.

So how does it work?

Shoppers looking for products on their mobile devices will start seeing Product Listing Ads with “Buy on Google” text. That ad will lead to a retailer-branded product page hosted by Google. Shoppers will have to input their payment information during their initial transaction if they haven’t already associated it with their Google account. And their information will then be retained by Google to expedite future mobile purchases.

What’s in it for shoppers?

For mobile shoppers, the idea is that this is a much easier (and quicker) transaction than the typical mobile retail experience, which involves more steps, is more-often-than-not painful and usually leads to massive amounts of cart abandonment.

Google also says that Purchases on Google offers a consistent, secure and trustworthy experience for online shoppers.

What’s in it for retailers/brands?

For merchants that have struggled with mobile conversion rates, Purchases on Google is an easy way to leapfrog all of the typical issues that hinder a mobile conversion (lengthy checkout, non-mobile friendly website). Purchases on Google can also serve as a customer acquisition channel for those shoppers who opt-in to receiving promotional email.

Google has worked to preserve the merchant’s branding and create up-sell potential with retailer-wrapping that will show up on the product page, complete with a link to the merchant’s website and additional product recommendations.

The Bigger Picture

The surge in buy buttons from social channels and now Google is a reflection of the evolving future of e-commerce and the role that mobile plays here. These “transactional product ads” signify the blurring lines between social/advertising/commerce. Everything is uniting with one goal: Get in front of shoppers wherever they are, and make it as simple as possible to purchase.

And it’s with good reason that these channels are moving in this direction. According to comScore, mobile retail spend accounted for 15.4% of the $72.2 billion in US Q1 2015 digital spend, which is a pretty big jump from the ~12% average throughout 2014.

However, there’s still a significant gap between mobile retail time spent and retail dollars spent. Shoppers are actually interacting with retail sites an impressive 59% of the time from their mobile devices.

So why such a disparity? While there are different factors that lead to this gap, the main problem still comes down to the poor shopping experience on mobile devices.

So what can retailers do?

Purchases on Google is still in its early days and only available to a limited number of retailers, but you should be ready to act fast if and when the opportunity arises.

1. Get your data in order. 

That sloppy Excel document you call a product data feed won’t cut it when you’ve got to provide Google with quantity, variations (size, color), additional recommended products. And daily feeds won’t be enough — you’ll need to be able to provide intraday and ideally real-time quantity updates to Google.

2. Do your homework.

Keep an eye on products that are selling on mobile devices or being searched on mobile devices to help inform your Purchases on Google strategy.

3. Check your “engine.”

Make sure you, or your software provider, can handle the orders and volume required to keep a steady stream of data flowing back and forth to Google. If you’ve never accepted external orders — for example, if you’ve never sold on a third-party marketplace — this will be a new concept for you. Now is the time to stand up these integrations, test them, and ensure they’re properly optimized, especially if you’re working with a time-strapped internal IT team. (Hint: see more strategies via the tip sheet available at the bottom of this page.)

While mobile still only accounts for 2.4% of all total retail, there is unbelievable potential. Consumers are there, so retailers need to be there as well — creating as little friction as possible.

As our CEO David Spitz said in our last blog on this topic, “This development could be huge for retailers, and those that get on the bus early are likely to widen the competitive gap between themselves and their competitors. We strongly encourage retailers to prepare now. As always, our mission at ChannelAdvisor is to help our customers “future-proof” their businesses by worrying about developments like this so you don’t have to. If and when this becomes a reality, you can be sure we’ll be there, ready to help you succeed.”

Make sure you’re prepared for transactional product ads wherever they are. Check out our One Pager “Think You’re Ready for the ‘Buy’ Button Revolution?” that walks you through the steps you need to take to ensure you’re ready to hit the ground running.