Google knows how to press the right buttons, literally! The Internet giant has launched Purchases on Google, essentially, a ‘buy button’ with mobile search ads. The buy button will make it easier for shoppers to buy products from mobile search ads. “We’re squeezing more and more into the very thin slices of time we have in our lives," said Jonathan Alferness, vice-president, product management, Google Shopping at a retail-focused event at Google’s New York office on Wednesday.

Alferness said the company was testing this feature with “a dozen or so" retail partners over the next few weeks, before rolling it out to advertisers in the US. The move is aimed at improving the mobile experience on Google to aid shoppers as they browse, compare, and research products. According to the company’s blogpost, this feature will begin rolling out on Chrome for Android this month, with iOS to follow in the coming months.

So, how will this new feature work? Buy buttons will allow a user to order items directly through sponsored results on Google Search from their smartphone, reports Business Insider. For example, when a shopper searches on their mobile for a product such as “women’s hoodies", she may see a shopping ad with a ‘Buy on Google’ button next to it. On clicking that, the user will be taken to a page where she will be able to buy the advertised product. Checkout will be a simple and seamless process, thanks to saved payment credentials in the user’s Google Account.

Google, however, makes it amply clear that the merchants will still handle the actual product fulfillment, although the pages will be hosted by Google. Google has emphasized that it’s trying to reduce the friction in mobile purchases without interfering in the relationship between merchants and consumers. That’s why the purchase page will carry the merchant’s branding, and if the product isn’t exactly what the shopper is looking for, they’ll even be able to search for other products. More details on this can be found in websites like Business Insider and Techcrunch.

So why is Google introducing this new feature? According to consumer data available to Google, US retailers’ conversion rates on desktop computers are two times higher than on mobile. So, the company is working on new solutions to help retailers increase mobile engagement and sales. In fact, even Mary Meeker, partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in her annual presentation on Internet trends, predicted that buy buttons would be a quickly-adopted feature for Google and other companies, helping close the mobile monetization gap.

Google is also taking other steps to assist retailers and shopping apps. Among them is deep linking. As per reports in Business Insider, Google Search will now send the shopper directly to eBay and other apps whenever they tap on a sponsored search result from that respective retailer. Additionally, Search is also getting smarter about responding to natural voice queries that are related to shopping, and Google Now is adding two new cards.

According to Google’s blog post, the Google Now in-store card appears when a shopper is near a store, displaying useful information such as sales, closing hours, loyalty card data, and more. On clicking “Search store inventory," a Google-hosted, retailer-branded local storefront allows the user to browse that store’s shelves 24 hours a day. The second card is the Google Now price drop card that highlights a significant price reduction on a product giving the user a a compelling reason to make that purchase.

Clearly, Google is gung-ho about this intitiave. Alferness writes in the blog post: “There are lots of great shopping apps out there, and we want to encourage shoppers to use them... This is a tremendous new opportunity for retailers and app developers to drive engagement with their shopping apps, and we’ll be expanding it to more advertisers in the coming months."

Other companies too are testing similar initiatives. NDTV reports that last month, Pinterest introduced “pins" that let iPhone or iPad users in the US buy items they like at the popular online bulletin board. Pinterest has become one of the Internet’s hottest new websites, particularly among women, by giving people virtual bulletin boards that they can decorate with pictures showcasing interests in anything from food to sports, to fashion or travel.

Facebook, too, is taking a leap into shopping with buy buttons. Techcrunch reports that it’s been over a year since Facebook started testing its buy button in ads on the newsfeed, and it appears that the company is now ready to take the service to its next logical progression with dedicated shops on Pages where users can browse for and purchase items.

However, according to a Forrester research blogpost, aptly titled “Don’t buy into buy buttons just yet", the author argues that image-based social networks like Pinterest get credit for generating purchase intent but its “current execution is weak". The same post goes on to add that Facebook could be a buy-button leader because of its scale “but it just doesn’t appear to have that much interest in winning at this". Google’s buy button, the post concludes, holds promise but success is relative even if it does get the execution right. The real game-changer will be when Google puts the buy button on the desktop, “which is and will be the predominant way to buy digitally in the foreseeable future".

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