In an effort to expand the kind of information available to online shoppers via its Trusted Stores program, Google has acquired the technology and certain assets of KikScore, a trust seal company serving mostly small businesses. The cost of the intellectual property acquisition wasn’t disclosed.
According to a post on KikScore’s site, the standalone service is being shut down on June 28. The company suggests users turn to Google Trusted Stores as an alternative.
“There is still great work to be done for small businesses and that is why we are so excited that an industry leader will be able to build off of the technology, platform and IP that we spent our blood, sweat and tears building, developing and launching,” wrote Rajeev Malik, KikScore co-founder.
While Google Trusted Stores monitors product shipping times and customer service issues, and provides $1000 in purchase protection, the 4-year-old KikScore went further, including offering seals for local businesses that don’t sell online.
With KikScore, shoppers click an icon on the bottom of the page to learn who is behind the business, about the management, about the website’s history, and about customer feedback.
The company gets data from third parties, from the merchant, and via consumer surveys, combining it all for an aggregate KikScore that’s dynamically updated. KikScore has offered this service for $14.99 a month.
Google isn’t saying what it plans to do with the intellectual property it has acquired. None of the KikScore staff will be joining Google.
The patent acquisition plays clearly into Google’s efforts around small and local businesses, as it simplifies AdWords and develops Google Places into Google+ Local. The company is also reportedly starting a “business builder” marketing program for small businesses. KikScore’s ability to rate non-ecommerce and service businesses seems especially interesting, as it’s an area where Google has previously had limited data.
The announcement comes on the heels of Google revamping its Product Search to change its name to Google Shopping, while also changing the business model.
Note: This story has been updated from an earlier version to add additional information and clarify that the acquisition involved solely intellectual property.