Google Buy Button: Can the Search Giant Fulfill Retail's Pipe Dream?

By Tinuiti Team

As Google enthusiasts continue to speculate about the anticipated “Buy Button”, industry experts share how they envision the program to function and how it will impact retailers. The rumored feature would challenge Amazon’s “one-click” ordering, transforming Google’s custom search empire into a dynamic marketplace.

Tien Nguyen, co-founder at CPC Strategy shares his theoretical vision for the feature:

“Paired up with a Google Android phone or even Google glasses, one can in theory go to a store, take a picture of a product and use Google’s reverse image search algorithm to find the product. Then, with the help of Google Shopping/Google’s new Marketplace find it at the cheapest price. Based on the user’s Google search history find related items they’d like and finally with a press of a button make a purchase through their Google Account which is linked to their Google Wallet account. That product would be delivered to their house, before they even arrive home, in their self-driving Google car,” he said.


Although the “Buy Now” button sounds great in theory, Rick Backus, CEO at CPC Strategy predicts the development may encounter some major challenges that could delay or completely derail the new feature.

How will Google receive real-time inventory?

“If Google adds this button, the company will need to impose new technical standards to ensure accurate and real time inventory updates from  advertisers.  Once Google owns the checkout process, it assumes the responsibility of keeping its shoppers happy. Out of stock products do not lead to happy customers, and Google would need a strict mechanism in place not to penalize sellers with inaccurate product inventory.”

How will Google enforce fast shipping?

Amazon Prime has completely changed shipping expectations for online shoppers. Amazon customers expect free shipping within 48 hours without thinking twice about the challenge this presents for most retailers. Unless Google is planning on creating its own fulfillment network (Fulfillment by Google?), it will now have to deal with the rising (and often unrealistic) shipping expectations of today’s online shoppers.”

Will Google share customer data?

“Retailers were outraged when Google Shopping embraced paid inclusion, but they quickly came around to accept a Google Shopping World with increased advertiser control.  A lot of those same retailers refuse to sell on Amazon because Amazon controls the entire customer experience. Google can either choose to put its users first and protect their contact information, or it can appease its advertisers by sharing customer data. It will difficult to come up with a solution that appeals to both the user and the advertiser.”

Are retailers going to willingly participate?

According to Backus,  hypothetically – yes.

Regardless of the spin Google would put behind a ‘Buy Now’ button, taking this step would continue to blur the line between search and retail. Google would undoubtedly create a beautiful checkout process, which would help to turn more Google Shopping browsers into buyers. However, the ‘Buy Now’ button would also require Google to become much more involved in the logistics and customer-service aspects of a retail world that Amazon absolutely dominates.”

jeff-McRitchie-my-bindingJeff McRitchie, VP of Marketing at, one of North America’s leading retailers for document finishing, document protection and document destruction equipment and supplies weighs in with his opinion.

As a retailer, how do you anticipate a Google Buy Button would impact the e-commerce industry?

“In the beginning the impact will most likely be very small.  I suspect that adoption slow as it was with the introduction of Google Checkout.  They will most likely begin testing the concept using a small number of approved beta retailers and roll it out slowly from there.  It is likely that at first consumers will be skeptical of the transaction where Google doesn’t control the fulfillment of the product.  If Google is going to succeed with their buy button they are going to need to get enough critical mass and offer substantial incentives to both consumers and merchants in order to compete against Amazon Prime.”

What concerns would you have as a retailer regarding the introduction of a Google Buy Button?

“Like selling on other marketplaces the danger with the Google Buy Button is that the merchant gives up both transactional control and branding.  There is a risk that consumers will see themselves as more loyal to shopping on Google than with the merchant.  This may lead to a lower lifetime customer value and reduce opportunities for retention marketing especially if emails addresses are not shared with the merchant.  The concept of a Google Buy Button also removes the ability for the merchant to win the sale based upon customer experience and information.  It places a much greater emphasis on price and may give smaller merchants an ability to compete with larger using the trust that the Google Brand portrays.”

How would you implement the button in your own business?

“If Google offers a significant advantage in visibility to merchants who adopt their button then I  would be likely to jump in with both feet since the risk would be fairly low and the momentum of the program will most likely build over time.  If the advantage to join is not overwhelming or the barrier to entry is too high (integration cost, data feeds, etc.) then I might be tempted to wait for the program to gain wider adoption before hopping on the bandwagon.”


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