SMB e-retailers see value in Google's Trusted Stores

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Tom Fallows, group product manager, Google Shopping
Tom Fallows, group product manager, Google Shopping

Following the June launch of the Google Trusted Stores program for e-commerce storefronts, participating small businesses have seen a slight increase in business performance, though skepticism remains about the program's overall efficacy.

The program gives e-commerce businesses the opportunity to have Google examine their site in return for a grade, a description of reliability, and a Google Trusted Stores badge that appears in the bottom right-hand corner of the website revealing the site's rank in shipping, service, and other important aspects of the e-commerce process.

Sucharita Mulpuru, VP and principle analyst at Forrester Research, characterizes Google's program as “the most meaningless and vacuous promise” the search giant has ever made. She explains in an email that badges like the ones offered by Google are not a new concept and have lost relevance except in the mobile channel where, Mulpuru notes, Google Trusted Stores doesn't work. She concedes, however, that the badges matter more to smaller retailers than to large brands.

Tom Fallows, group product manager of Google Shopping, says that while Google Trusted Stores was developed for retailers of all sizes, its current focus is on smaller outlets. “Right now, we're working to help smaller merchants who use common e-commerce platforms integrate Google Trusted Stores more easily into [those] platforms,” he says.

Those retailers have seen moderate upticks in their business since participating in the program. Wayfair, a home décor e-commerce site, saw a “performance” (a Google statistic that combines conversions and average order size) increase of more than 2.3%, says Ed Macri, VP of advertising and business intelligence at the company.

Part of this success may be due to Wayfair's newfound association with the Google brand. “Over the years we've experimented with other logos that express our reliability and most have not made an impact,” Macri notes. “This one really makes a difference, most likely because Google is so well-known.”

Power Equipment Direct (PED), an outdoor power equipment brand, has seen a “performance” increase of 1.7%, says Jessica Vaicik, director of promotions at PED. She also attributes some of the uptick to the Google name. “We initially joined Google Trusted Stores to differentiate ourselves from our competitors, and it gave us a unique opportunity to partner with a brand as recognizable as Google.”

Google also benefits from the badges, Forrester's Mulpuru points out, deriving “some modest benefit because it can increase the click-throughs for smaller merchants that buy paid search terms.” She strongly doubts the program's long-term prospects.

“Google has a long list of stagnating projects and an equally long list of dead ones,” she says. “This is such a pointless and ineffective offering that will likely stagnate at best.”

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