Is the Google buy button set to transform mobile retail?

As mobile becomes increasingly important for digital retail, the WSJ reports Google plans to add buy buttons to its search results pages on mobile devices.

The buttons will show up in paid search results under a “Shop on Google” heading at the top of a page. They won’t appear in the unpaid results or when users look for products on desktop.

When shoppers click on the buy buttons, they will be directed to a product page on Google where they can choose product sizes and colours as well as complete the purchase. If consumers opt in, Google will also be able to store credit card information and automatically load it for future transactions. This approach appears to be an attempt by Google to steal a march on mobile from Amazon, which currently dominates the online retail space.

The question that hangs over the move is how Google will evolve to handle delivery and returns, as the logistics requirement for the search giant would be massive. While the current expectation is that goods will be dealt with directly by retailers, there could be significant brand impact if there is a problem with the retailer. Consumer expectations of fulfilment and returns now play a significant role in customer loyalty, so that process needs to be managed well.

Google is trying to appease retailers by stating that it’s model will remain the same, only charging an ad fee for those consumers that click on a buy button, and that product landing pages will be heavily branded with their names and link to more of their products.

But the news is undoubtedly the herald of more change to come for ecommerce. At the very least, while this won’t directly affect search by consumers on the browser, it will have a direct impact on the real estate available for organic search results.