Online shoppers who use Google Shopping to search for products may soon also be able to directly purchase items from search results without having to visit the Website of the retailer that is actually selling the product.
The Wall Street Journal Dec. 15 reported that the search giant is planning on introducing a "Buy" button on Google Search similar to the one offered by online retail giant Amazon. The button will enable shoppers to do one-click purchases just as they have been able to do with Amazon for some time.
Google will not actually sell or ship any products, the Journal said, quoting unnamed sources. Instead, the company is attempting to streamline the shopping process for consumers with a view to keeping them on its shopping site through the entire purchase process.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The decision to introduce the "Buy" button is apparently part of a broader Google plan to take on Amazon more directly in the online retail market. Google executives have recently expressed concern about online shoppers bypassing Google for Amazon when searching for products.
"People don't think of Amazon as search," Google CEO Eric Schmidt said at an event in October. "But if you are looking for something to buy, you are more often than not looking for it on Amazon," he said in comments quoted by Fortune. Even though Amazon's primary focus is e-commerce, it operates very much like a search engine in helping answer buyer questions and retrieving product results in response to search queries, he said.
Google has taken other steps to counter Amazon's growing dominance in the online retail space. In October, the company expanded its Google Express same-day delivery services to Chicago, Boston and Washington, D.C., in the process raising the number of people served by another 7 million. The company also offers a Google Express next-day delivery service for some 12 million customers in Northern California.
In the past few months, Google has also expanded the number of companies that have agreed to participate in Google Express. Merchants currently using the service include several big-name retailers like Barnes & Noble, 1-800-Flowers, Nine West, PetSmart and Sports Authority.
Google is planning to build on such efforts by launching a marketing program that will allow merchants to promote two-day shipping for products purchased through Google Service, the Journal said in its report on Monday. The program will be similar to one offered by ShopRunner, where for an annual fee of $79, shoppers can get unlimited two-day shopping, the Journal added. Membership to Google Express currently costs $10 per month or $95 annually.
Although Google is seen primarily as a search company and Amazon as an online retailer, the two companies have been on a collision course for some time. Two years ago, Forrester Research published a report showing how Amazon had replaced Google to become the top site for consumers researching online purchases.
Some 30 percent of online buyers began their research on Amazon compared with just 13 percent on Google, Forrester had noted. Nearly nine out of 10 people who purchased something online claimed they had also shopped at Amazon at some point in the past, the report said. "In fact, for many businesses, Amazon has simultaneously become a sales channel, a potential service provider and a competitive threat."