Having been rumoured for months, Google has finally confirmed that its ‘Buy now’ button will soon be launched.

Here, we look at the implications of the arrival. 

How will it work?

The ‘Buy now’ button will begin appearing next to products that appear as part of Google Shopping Campaigns, on mobile. It will afford users the opportunity to purchase items without the need of having to leave Google Shopping, which is likely to contribute to an increase in conversion rates for retailers. Google is likely to utilise this feature to rival other key players in the online retail market; Amazon, eBay, etc.

It is anticipated that when shoppers click the ‘Buy now’ button, they will be taken directly to a Google product page. Here they’ll be able to specify certain product options, such as size, colour, etc. They’ll then be able to complete the transaction; it’s reported that Google will manage the payment processing, while order information will be passed on to the retailer.

What are the key advantages?

Individuals will be able to purchase a product in as few clicks as possible, without the need of having to navigate away from Google. This will speed up the process of completing a transaction, especially for individuals using mobile devices.

For retailers, it means that conversion rates are likely to increase. If your products appear as part of a shopping results page, users will be more inclined to hit the ‘Buy now’ button, rather than navigating deeper into a website.

Google Shopping allows for product prices to be compared at-a-glance too, which is especially useful if prices are competitive. This is where the ‘Buy now’ button will be used to good effect; users will be able to simply identify the website selling their coveted item at the cheapest price and purchase pretty much instantaneously.

Are there any disadvantages?

In principle, the ‘Buy now’ button is a very good idea. It makes the process of completing a transaction as easy as possible, in as few steps as possible. Still, there may be some negative implications for retailers.

Firstly, by bypassing a retailer’s platform and allowing a shopper to complete a transaction directly through Google, the entire brand experience is missed. Individuals will have no engagement with a business, nor will there be a chance to cross-promote products and push up-sell opportunities. Although order fulfillment and confirmation emails, etc., will be carried out by the retailer, it could still damage brand engagement.

Brand loyalty will also be hugely affected; by shopping through Google, users are unlikely to show any allegiance for a particular retailer – they’ll simply choose the cheapest price. Remarketing, and campaigns focused around browsing and purchase history, may also be affected, although Google is planning on passing along customer information, such as email address, to retailers. If Google chooses to withhold payment information, however, this could cause issues for retailers trying to gain that all important ‘complete view’ of customers.

It will also be interesting to see how conversions are tracked and if these can still be attributed 100% back to the original source and ad spend within Google AdWords / Google Shopping.

When is it happening?

Google’s chief business officer, Omid Kordestani, said that the arrival of the ‘Buy now’ button will be “imminent”, but no real timescale has been defined. Generally, Google rolls out new developments in the US first. It should then reach the UK, Europe and the rest of the world in the following months.

So all-in-all, it’s a good thing?

Pretty much, yes. As noted, there may be someone obvious disadvantages for retailers with regards to building customer relationships. But Google generally wants to afford its users a seamless experience; fewer clicks, and a more clear purchasing route, means that the ‘Buy now’ button clearly fits this model.

Most retailers will, however, see the cutting out of their brand experience as being detrimental. Building long-term customer relationships is a key business strategy for most, so perhaps a balance needs to be struck between enhancing the experience of Google Shopping Campaigns on mobile devices, and still considering retailers.

An ‘add to basket’ button within Google Shopping could be one way to achieve this; users would still be able to select a product, ready for purchase, but would be encouraged to complete the transaction through a retailer’s platform. Maybe this is too close to the current set up, but it does go one step further in actually adding a product to the basket of website, rather than simply taking users to a product page.

Still, recent industry trends suggest that the ‘Buy now’ button has a big role to play in the future of e-commerce. Amazon, eBay, Facebook and Twitter have all identified it as being the next step in encouraging more seamless purchasing whilst, more recently, Pinterest has announced its intention to launch a similar feature.

How effective the function will be, with regards to cementing Google’s position as a key player in the online retail market, and increasing conversion rates for retailers, remains to be seen but there’s no question that it has huge potential as an e-commerce game-changer.