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Google wants to make Shopping more like Amazon with one-click buy - report

According to a report by the WSJ, Google may be trying to streamline its Google Shopping experience by offering simplified buying options to rival Amazon.
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Published onDecember 16, 2014

google shopping shortlists

Amazon is quite possibly one of the most impressive success stories in the hallowed hall of internet-based corporations. What started as a humble online bookstore with an unusual name has now expanded to encompass seemingly everything: shopping, media, cloud storage, remote computing framework, and even mobile devices. It has partially-automated shipping warehouses and wants to deliver packages via drones. Heck, its founder Jeff Bezos has even purchased The Washington Post. The only thing Amazon isn’t successful at seems to be making a killing in profits, as the company’s customer-friendly business model doesn’t lend itself especially well to Apple-esque financial gains. Still, investors are absolutely smitten with the company.

To say that everyone wants a piece (of Amazon) is an understatement, and though many companies hope to aspire to its level of greatness, none have truly succeeded on a multi-national level… yet. According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, however, Google is actively seeking to become a more visible and vicious competitor.

Changes planed by Google would reportedly affect the way the Google Shopping portal operates: as things currently work, users are presented with links to retailer’s websites wherein they can purchase the desired item(s) they searched for. The drawback of the current shopping method is that users are less likely to complete a purchase because the third-party site would require registration, both of personal and payment information, in order to complete the sale. The more work that needs to be done, the less likely any given person is to do it.

The solution is therefore to simplify matters. Apparently the folks at Mountain View have offered online retailers to create a “buy” button for the Google Shopping site, thus serving to emulate the “one-click ordering” offered by Amazon: this will ensure potential customers go through Google to complete their purchase, and, as shopper’s information would already be on-file [with Google] the transaction would indeed be a one-click affair sans any kind of extra work.

google shopping
The current setup on Google Shopping directs buyers to partnering retailer’s websites

As the WSJ indicated, “Google wouldn’t sell or ship products itself. It aims to streamline shopping for Internet users so they keep searching for products on Google instead of switching to Amazon. The move comes as Amazon has bolstered efforts to snag a slice of Google’s search advertising business.”

The WSJ also details a second string to this Amazon-approach, a possible “marketing program that would allow merchants to promote two-­day shipping for products purchased through its shopping service… the program would resemble ShopRunner Inc., which offers unlimited two-­day shipping from retailers including Neiman Marcus Group Inc. and Toys “R” Us Inc. for a $79 annual fee.” The probable goal is to emulate Amazon’s popular Prime service, which – among other benefits — offers free two-day shipping for many items from Amazon’s catalog.

While nothing is yet in stone, (Google itself hasn’t confirmed any of this officially), getting retailers to buy in might be a tough sell, as the streamlined shopping approach would ensure that Google gets a percentage of the sale, and shoppers would be less likely to actually visit the third-party website when they can simply do it all on Google.

Then again, the same might be said about the way Amazon already operates, and thus Google might be perceived as less of a threat to the merchant than Amazon. Still, according to the WSJ, “Amazon is increasingly running away with online retail in North America, which poses a huge problem for Google,” said Jeremy Levine, an e-­commerce investor at Bessemer Venture Partners. “Google has to get in front of this and create a reasonable alternative.”

It should be pointed out that Google already has a one-click-type shopping experience in its Google Express Shopping, and thus the question must be raised as to what kind of effect this possible new approach would have to the already established one. Perhaps they would be merged, which would certainly make sense given the overlapping nature, however given the number of retailers who don’t currently offer things in the Express store, perhaps the two would remain parallel after all.