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The Big Deal About a Little Mobile 'Buy' Button

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Google recently debuted a new mobile feature called "Purchases on Google," which makes buying products directly from mobile search advertisements easier for consumers.

Consumers turning to Google for search on their mobile devices now see a "buy" button in select promoted results. When consumers click on the button, it takes them to a page where the product can be directly purchased.

The reason for this new feature is to reduce friction in mobile purchases without interfering in the relationship between retailers and consumers.

Why Mobile Buy Buttons Are Trending

Consumers are increasingly using mobile devices to complete purchases, according to recent Criteo research.


The use of multiple devices to make a single purchase makes up 40% of all e-commerce transactions. Google is testing the feature with a dozen partners over the next few weeks, but the likelihood that this new approach to online advertising and buying will take off via mobile is high.

Myriad companies, including Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat, either have already implemented buttons of this sort across their mobile sites or plan on doing so in the near term.

The topic is so hot that Stripe, a Web payment company, hosted an entire session at Fortune's Brainstorm Tech conference recently during which the founders discussed why buy buttons across all devices including desktop, mobile phones and tablets are all over the Internet and how companies slow to catch on will seem broken by comparison.

Addressing the Skeptics

Still, there is skepticism. And the doubts aren't only regarding buy buttons on mobile search but also the future success of buy buttons on the Web altogether.

"In this age of hyper-adoption, we'll have a pretty early read on whether any of these buy buttons are successful for merchants," states Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru. "Given that more and more e-commerce traffic is organic (i.e., shoppers typing a company's URL directly), I don't think we'll see a major shift in how shoppers buy any time soon, at least not with the executions that have been announced to date."

Questioning the future of any new technology, including mobile buy buttons, is normal. However, any move that makes for a better consumer experience across all devices is best—both for the seller and the buyer.

Reasons to Use Mobile Buy Buttons

Everyone—buyers, sellers and advertisers—will win with mobile buy buttons. Here's why.

People Want to Buy

US consumers in particular want to spend, according to the Wall Street Journal. Retail sales have risen for the first time in four months as shoppers open their wallets.

As a business, the easier you make it for consumers to make a purchase whether on a desktop or via mobile phone, the more likely they will do so. That means retailers need to provide an easy-to-use and seamless experience to the buyer across all media—brick-and-mortar stores, over the phone, on a desktop webpage, via a mobile site, or within an app. The "buy" button feature on search now offers consumers convenience to make purchases instantaneously when they're in the market to buy.

Consumers Have Little Time

In the past year, publications like the New Yorker and The Economist have covered this topic. Both articles conclude that the relationship between time, money, and anxiety are all related. People are working more because they're getting paid more, and so, time is used more carefully in today's digital age.

Moreover, in regards to online shopping, time is of the essence. Toggling between sites and apps, and across multiple devices is time-consuming. People lose interest in a product the more work they're required to do to complete a purchase.

Merchants that can offer value, quality, good services, and efficiency will keep shoppers' attention. Mobile buy buttons are a natural and welcomed addition to the consumer experience because they eliminate steps to making a purchase, making it faster for a consumer to obtain what they want or need.

Experience Is Everything

Nearly 90% of companies surveyed plan to complete primarily on the basis of customer experience by next year, according to recent Gartner research. And 65% of companies have the equivalent of a chief customer officer, which emphasizes the importance of customers and their experiences.

* * *

Smart companies like the ones quick to jump on mobile buy buttons are putting the consumer experience first because they realize that the lines are quickly getting blurred between desktops, smartphones, and tablets.


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Mollie Spilman is chief revenue officer at Criteo, a performance marketing technology company.

Twitter: @mspilman 

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