Google might be the go-to for people looking to make a purchase, especially an online one, but a lot of the times it ends at search results. More often than not, those search results lead to a purchase on Amazon, and Google is none too happy about that. Now it is starting a program called Shopping Actions to let searcher become instant buyers without having to leave Google. And it is getting Amazon’s rivals to help set it up.
While Google also has its fingers in the online shopping cookie jar, it has never really measured up to Amazon in that market. That’s partly because, unlike Amazon, Google really doesn’t have a retail business. Instead, it is getting others to do dirty work, so to speak.
The Shopping Actions program is no different, but this time Google is going to take an even bigger cut. The way it works is perhaps genius in its simplicity. Search for an item you want to buy and buy it right then and there from the search results. No more going to Amazon. That is, if you don’t want to.
Your order gets saved to a shopping card linked to your account. That makes it easy to pile up the orders even before you check them out for the actual purchase. Shopping Actions will work on Google Search, Google Express, and, probably best of all, Google Assistant. That is a clear challenge to Amazon, whose Echo was primarily intended to be a voice-controlled shopping assistant.
But who will actually provide the products? Google is working with Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Costco, and Ulta Beauty, among others. Basically, retailers who are feeling the pressure from Amazon’s growing empire. It won’t come cheap, at least not for them. They will have to pay Google a percentage for every purchase made via Shopping Actions. Which is still a different percentage that Google gets from ads.
This promise of shopping convenience is probably going to run afoul of regulators eventually. Google has already battled, and sometimes lost, cases at home and abroad over shopping search results. And that was when it wasn’t directly offering a way to buy items without leaving those search results and when it wasn’t directly profiting from those.