We all know Google is regularly testing new ways to add value to their paid search listings. In the past, we’ve seen the Google Checkout bar, review stars, product extensions, sitelink extensions, enhanced ad sitelinks, and more. This past October, Google announced their Google Trusted Stores pilot program to help increase consumer confidence in shopping online. A select and limited number of stores received Google’s endorsement for the program that are now able to offer free purchase protection from Google, feature a Google Trusted Store badge on their store pages, and even receive a corresponding line on their AdWords ads. As both an eCommerce Consultant and an AdWords Account Manager, I recommend taking advantage of these add-ons as soon as they become available to you. They boost consumer confidence, and they are definitely eye-catching.
So what does it mean to be a Google Trusted Store?
Keep in mind that the Trusted Store program is still in pilot mode. Google is currently accepting applications for the endorsement, but is not yet giving them out to every eCommerce site that qualifies. That being said, Google has awarded Google Trusted Store badges to a limited number of merchants that are known for quick, reliable shipping and excellent customer service. A Google Trusted Store has two meanings:
- Google has identified the store as reliable.
- Google offers free purchase protection on orders placed with said merchant.
In this mutually beneficial relationship, Google acts as the go-between for the customer and the merchant, should a customer have an issue with a product purchased and is unable to work things out with the merchant. If the purchase was made from a Google Trusted Store, the issue can be taken to Google for help. However, such disputes should be a very rare occurrence – in theory – because Google Trusted Stores have been identified by Google for having superior eCommerce and customer service standards.
Google Trusted Stores have the option to display the associated badge on each page of their site. On some sites, such as the one in the screenshot below, the badge stays in the bottom right corner – even during scrolling – similar to a live chat button.
In a effort to further boost consumer confidence, clicking on the badge will prompt a Google Trusted Stores report card for the site to pop us, which features a number of customer satisfaction stats.
How does this program benefit merchants?
Displaying the “$1,000 purchase protection from Google” in your paid search ads will undoubtedly increase online merchants’ clickthrough rates. Such inserts are already showing up in Google Trusted Stores’ paid ads, but I have yet to see such messaging in the natural listings.
Becoming a Google Trusted Store also comes with the added benefit of being able to place a corresponding badge on your store’s pages. Studies show that the success of such confidence-building badges – also known as “trustmarks” – varies greatly, and the trustmarks that perform best come from widely-recognized and reputable brands. Seeing as how Google made Buyology’s most recent Top 10 List of Most Desired Brands for both men and women and was determined to have the 3rd highest consumer perception out of 100 top consumer brands in last year’s survey by Forbes, I’d anticipate their trustmark holding significantly more weight than others.
How do customers benefit from the program?
When a customer goes to check out at a Google Trusted Store, they’ll be given the option to opt in for free purchase protection. This protection is limited to $1,000 in lifetime claims, and it includes the entire purchase amount, plus tax and shipping.
Of course, there are some limitations. Purchase protection is not extended to certain types of goods, but don’t worry. These prohibited products – which include human remains, body parts, miracle cures, etc. – should be common sense…I hope.
This purchase protection, which expires 60 days after the order was placed, covers issues such as receiving items not in the promised condition, stores not honoring their posted return policies, etc. It is not a warranty for the product itself, and the store’s posted return policy is still valid. Google’s Trusted Stores Help page outlines the following eligibilities and limitations:
Eligible purchase protection issues include the following:
- You fail to receive the correct item.
- The item is not in the promised condition.
- You are billed an incorrect amount.
- The item is not shipped in a timely manner.
- The store does not honor their return policies.
Limitations to purchase protection include the following:
- The merchant’s return policy and terms still apply.
- Purchase protection is not a product warranty.
- Purchase protection does not apply to lost or stolen items. Google does not evaluate or endorse specific products sold by stores in the program.
- Purchase protection is limited to the item you purchased; it does not apply for identity theft or credit card theft.
No one knows for sure if the Google Trusted Stores pilot program will pan out or not. In the meantime, being endorsed by Google certainly doesn’t hurt. To be considered for this program if it does expand, you must complete Google’s Trusted Stores Interest Form, which will ask for your contact information, primary company website, AdWords account ID, Merchant Center Account ID, annual revenue, etc. If Google’s Trusted Store program is opened to all who qualify, the added revenue for Google, added confidence for consumers, and increases in clickthrough rates for online merchants should be a win-win-win.
What do you think? Would this new program be a win for everyone, or is Google overstepping their bounds?