Purchases on Google One of Many Upcoming Mobile Shopping Enhancements

After months of speculation about a Google buy button, the search giant announced the upcoming Purchases on Google at its Retail Leadership Summit in New York this morning.

The feature will allow consumers to make purchases directly from Google, which will only host the retailer-branded pages; things like fulfillment, marketing and returns will be handled by the individual merchants. The idea behind Purchases on Google, which is CPC and will be available within the next month, is to make life easier for mobile shoppers.

“I don’t even think about where I am when I’m shopping on my mobile phone; it’s become that ubiquitous against the fabric of my life,” says Jon Alferness, vice president of product management for Google Shopping.

Alferness adds that over the last year, there has been a 115 percent increase in shopping searches. To keep up with the increasingly mobile world, Google will be rolling out other features in the near future, including:

  • Mobile Voice Search, the use of which more than doubled last year, will be expanded to Google Shopping. Searchers asking about a specific product will see Google Now Cards with that product’s attributes or reviews, the latter of which is aggregated from all over the Internet.
  • Google Now Price Drop Cards alert users when the price of an item goes down significantly.
  • Because location is such a big part of people’s online shopping, particularly with mobile, Google Now In-Store Cards will provide information about specific locations, with inventory feeds integrated into the search. “If you’re near a Home Depot and pull up Google Now, the In-Store Card will show you information about that exact store location: sales, closing hours, loyalty programs,” Alferness says, adding that the feature is Google-hosted but locally-branded.
  • Google is currently working with retailers – early testers include eBay and Flipkart – to deep link to their apps within shopping ads, driving consumers to their apps instead of their websites.

According to Jason Spero, head of global mobile sales and strategy at Google, 93 percent of shopping happens offline, though mobile still plays a huge roll. Deloitte estimated that mobile devices influenced $1 trillion worth – or 28 percent – of in-store purchases last year. For example, Local Inventory Ads boosted Sears’ in-store visits by 122 percent, while one-third of search ad clicks resulted in a visit to Target during the holidays last year.

“Shopping at Target doesn’t start when you get there,” Spero says. “The experience of shopping at Target begins on a mobile device well before you get inside the actual store.”

The ability to measure mobile’s offline impact, which has long been a part of Google AdWords: third-party data tracks Google ads to consumers’ devices, while in-store purchases identify them by their loyalty cards. The data provides matches and uploads to AdWords for optimization. This feature will soon be available on other platforms, such as DoubleClick, as well.

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