Search engine giant Google has announced its plan to add a “buy” button for mobile users looking for online products, a move that could improve the low conversion rate which has always plagued mobile commerce. (Mobile devices account for over 40% of internet traffic but barely 1 out 4 internet purchases.) Because making a purchase on a smartphone typically requires repeatedly zooming in and out on the screen and tapping tiny links, the user will often resort to a laptop or desktop computer to the finalize the transaction. With Google’s new option, the user would visit a mobile-friendly website, where all relevant choices as to product and payment options could be handled while remaining on the Google website. Google would also be able to store the user’s credit card information to make subsequent purchases easier.
Although this new avenue of online commerce will not initially result in direct competition with market leaders such as Amazon or eBay, it might nevertheless keep mobile users from leaving Google’s website for the other internet marketplaces. The buy buttons will accompany paid search advertisements but won’t appear in “organic” search results. Currently a Google user completes a purchase by clicking through to a retailer’s website, but the buy button would allow Google itself to finalize the transaction. Retailers will be happy not have to pay a separate charge like they would for Amazon or eBay. However, Google will have to be careful not to scare them away because retailers are some of Google’s largest search advertisers.
(Google was incorporated in 1998 as a search engine service basing search results upon relationships between websites. It has since evolved into a multinational technology concern which is also involved in online advertising, software and cloud computing. Its website is the world’s most-visited one, generating tens of billions of dollars in revenue for the company.)