Merchants who participate will have a “Trusted Stores” badge — which opens to provide information about the company’s shipping and customer service record — appear beside their AdWords ads. The badge won’t be a ranking signal.
“It’s an ecommerce certification that helps shoppers feel comfortable with buying online even if they don’t know the store they’re buying from,” explains Tom Fallows, group product manager at Google Shopping. “It gives them a clear and quick way to know that an online store is trustworthy.”
Positive Impact On Conversions And Order Sizes
Fallows says the 50 merchants that have been participating in the beta have, on average, seen their conversion rates and order sizes increase. Wayfair, for example, saw conversions increase by 1.4% and order size grow by 0.9%. Online gift shop Beau-coup saw conversions grow by 3.1% and order size increase by 5.5%. It’s likely the less well known the ecommerce brand, the larger the benefit they’d see from implementing the seal.
The motivation for Google — which is investing considerable resources into the program, which is free to consumers and merchants — is to increase the level of trust that consumers have with online shopping. And the more money online merchants make, the more they have to spend on AdWords.
Currently, the Trusted Stores program has the following elements:
- Shipping reliability – Google monitors (via a pixel) what shipping promises are made on purchase confirmation pages, then the merchant sends Google tracking numbers when things are shipped. Google verifies whether the merchant is meeting its promises.
- Customer service – Google runs a customer service portal (separate from the merchant’s own system) where folks may contact the merchant — with Google copied — about problems. Google tracks how quickly problems are resolved.
- $1000 in Consumer Purchase Protection – if buyers opt in, they can be eligible for $1000 if something goes wrong with their purchase.
Fallows says the program will eventually encompass elements like malware protection and greater transparency for return policies. It will also be offering phone support for consumers, so they can call with problems, rather than using the online interface to report issues with purchases. When I asked about plans to incorporate intellectual property Google just acquired from ShopKick, Fallows wouldn’t comment on that.
The Small Business Challenge
One challenge Google faces in expanding the program to all U.S. merchants — large and small — is that many small businesses could be turned off by the technical implementation or the workload of sending shipping information on a regular basis.
To address this, Fallows says Google has made the integration process as lightweight as possible, and the company is currently working with the major ecommerce platforms — Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento and Yahoo Stores — to develop “push button” integration.
Will Google have the resources to smoothly handle the likely deluge of new merchant applications, along with the higher transaction volume and customer service requests? Fallows wouldn’t say how many people the company has dedicated to the program, but said he was confident the company was ready. The pilot program involved 10 million shoppers and over a billion dollars.
Note: A previous version of this story said user reviews were included in Trusted Stores, but users only review customer service levels, not the business as a whole.