Google has confirmed it - a Buy Button is “imminent.” The button is expected to be rolled out on mobile devices, and will enable people who click on product ads in search results to buy those products without navigating to a third-party site. The button, following similar moves by Facebook and Twitter, are a significant departure for the search giant, which has built its business based on ads that link to other websites.
"The rationale is to reduce friction for customers'" said Omid Kordestani, Google’s Chief Business Officer, "making it simpler to complete online purchases." Trust us, there's another reason - Google is facing significant competition from Amazon and others when it comes to people searching for products and has been steadily moving to be more "direct." Recent examples include:
- Direct sales of smart phones & service
- Google Glass (sold direct only)
- Direct sales of insurance (new for 2015)
- Google Express (Google does not stock items, but delivers same-day or overnight from local retailers).
Their skill sets in selling direct have been honed by almost a decade of direct sales for its mail apps and cloud services. They have even tried the payer route with Google Wallet. In fact, the "Google Graveyard" is a robust list of products and services that were tested and then scraped including Google Reader, iGoogle, Google Commerce Search, Google Wave, etc.
Don't expect them to quit on the Buy Button any time soon. Don't think of this as a test, but more of an 'evolution' in online commerce. For a manufacturer, this presents several key questions:
- How real is the Buy Button threat for your market segment? Mobile purchases vary greatly by market segment. The most likely segments that will be impacted are any purchases that are under $50 (a proven price point for mobile) OR items that have a 'fast pickup' option
- Are your retail and distribution partners properly aligned with Google? If you have B2C end customers you should already be verifying if your products are available via Google Express
- If they are not aligned, should you take a more direct position with Google?
- Have you looked beyond Google and assessed all the 'digital' players that continue to make inroads? This includes the major players like Amazon and Wal-mart, as well as the up and comers like Hayneedle, Jet, and Rakuten.
- Who is responsible in your organization for following up on this? If you're thinking "Google is handled by marketing," you're dead wrong. This is a sales and distribution challenge you need to address. Let marketing market.