Google I/O 2017, The Highlights for eCommerce

Image: Google | Google I/O 2017 Shoreline Amphitheater
Image: Google | Google I/O 2017 Shoreline Amphitheater
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This week Google held its annual GeekFest better known as Google I/O. This developer conference is where Google comes out with new solutions or updates to existing offerings and explains how developers can incorporate them into their applications.

The three-day event covered major topics from Android, security, search, Google Home automation, driving assistance, Chrome, apps development, cloud integration, machine learning, and just about everything else Google offers now. You can check out videos from most of their public sessions here.

However, at eSellerCafe, we want to take a focus on the areas that impact eCommerce. And Google provides some new and exciting solutions that will make all eCommerce more seamless but specifically focused on mobile commerce.

ANDROID PAY IS IN 10 MARKETS AND GROWING

Android Pay, the successor of the less than successful Google Wallet, was introduced at Google I/O in 2015.

Since then the digital wallet has expanded to 10 markets which include the U.S., UK, Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, Poland, New Zealand, Ireland, Japan, and Belgium. Later this year Android Pay will go live in Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, Brazil, Canada, and Spain.

This time around, Google is working with major existing payment and card platforms to make Android Pay universally easier to use and acceptable. To date, Android Pay works with Visa Checkout, Mastercard MasterPass, and Paypal.

And Google is adding Bank of America, Bank of New Zealand, Discover, MBank, and USAA shortly to Android Pay.

WHAT MAKES ANDROID PAY SO IMPORTANT NOW?

Google revealed that Android as an operating system is now available on 2 billion devices. That includes everything from phones, watches, cars, TVs, and more.

Of course, on that list smartphones are the primary short-term growth in Android Pay. Adding a simple way to pay for purchases using Android Pay improves conversion on mobile.

Google stated that sales conversion on mobile devices was 1/3 of desktop and laptop. That is a huge gap which Google wants to solve by reducing checkout friction.

Jet.com reportedly increased conversion 3.5x by implementing Android Pay.

But what about the future and so many other devices. We already know that NFC payments are growing. More people are using their phones to tap on in-store checkout terminals to pay for goods.

With Android Auto increasing user growth 10x and to over 300 car models, it is not far-fetched to believe that one day you will go through a drive through and pay for your meal from the Android Auto screen using Android Pay.

It appears Google wants to make Android Pay your one wallet for all your purchases, online and offline.

As more users become more comfortable in using Android Pay, your website needs to be able to accept payment the same way.

GOOGLE PAYMENT REQUEST API SOLUTION FOR ONLINE RETAILERS

As just stated, Android Pay appears on a path of global adoption online and offline. So Google announced they released a new API called Google Payment Request.

Google Payment Request is more than just adding Android Pay. It is a whole new way to provide a frictionless user checkout experience, especially on mobile.

Some interesting facts to ponder:

  • In 2016, U.S. consumers spent $123 billion on mobile commerce (mCommerce)
  • mCommerce is expected to exceed $150 billion for 2017 for the U.S. alone
  • Long checkout continues to be leading cause for cart abandonment. Especially prevalent on mCommerce
  • Up to 80% of completed transactions have only one item

The basic concept of online commerce checkout is stuck in physical store design. A shopper in store goes through isles, online, the customer uses search or categories to find products.

When the shopper finds the product they want, they place it into the shopping cart (offline or online), and the theory is they continue to shop for other products. And so the process goes on until the shopper wants to leave the store.

In store, you go to a cash register where a person or in some areas now yourself, runs the merchandises over a scanner, and then you pay for the product using cash, check or the electronic terminal.

Online, you register with the merchant, fill out several forms, including payment information, and finally hit pay with a credit card.

In some ways this concept has not changed much since eCommerce was invented by Michael Aldrich in 1979, predating the world wide web.

With so many different screens and devices vying for ways to purchase products, Google is working to make this process simpler and truly move it into the digital world. To do this, the old world model is obsolete.

HOW GOOGLE WILL CHANGE THE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE

The Google Payment Request API is not a payment processing service, but a way to connect your payment processor to your shopper’s preferred payment method or wallet.

The concept is that your buyer receives simple menu options to complete the purchase. The digital wallet provides the data and therefore no lengthy retyping of data is required.

To see a demo on how easy checkout can be on mobile, watch the demo in this video starting at 6:30. Another demo is available in this video starting at 6:04.

Google stated this same simple concept will also work from Desktop and Laptop screens, demo is in this video starting at 10:25.

Best of all, this Payment Request API is a cross-browser integration. So it works today in Chrome, Edge, Samsung Internet, and Firefox is in development and launching soon.

For smaller merchants to take advantage of this API, Google announced WompMobile, Mobify, WooCommerce, Weebly, BigCommerce, and Shopify as first channel partners. Unfortunately absent from that list is Magento and one would hope that either via an extension or core integration, Magento will offer this functionality as well.

For the actual payment processing part, Google already has partners in Braintree, Stripe, and Vantiv with ACI, WorldPay, Adyen, and First Data coming soon.

In their demo, Google suggested that some merchants may not be willing to walk away from their current checkout model. So they suggested that online retailers should look at integrating the Payment Request API as a Buy-It-Now button on the product page.

BUY-IT-NOW BETTER FOR CONVERSION THAN LENGTHY CHECKOUT WITH SUGGESTED SELLING?

Through the years most eCommerce merchants have been drilled to think they need to improve suggested selling. Tools and extensions exist to make the checkout or the product page show more suitable alternatives or offer complementary items to raise cart revenue.

But if Google’s internal research among its original partners is right that nearly 80% of checkouts include only one item, it may be time to rethink that concept.

Product suggestions on the product page will continue to be important. Shoppers still look for similar items with different features or at a different price point.

But one has to start wondering if there is more to be gained by making mobile checkout better than incorporating more suggested sell screens.

As an online merchant, you may want to look at your sales? Do your sales show a similar pattern of mostly individual items? If so, Google may have a real point to streamline the checkout process to maximize conversion on that single item.

AMAZON MAY HAVE THE LEAD, BUT GOOGLE ASSISTANT IS NOT STANDING STILL

You may read our story about Amazon owning the voice enabled device market with over 70%, and Google is a distant second.

At Google I/O there was a lot of talk about Google Assistant and Google Home and how this service or device will continue to change how we interact with the web.

Most readers probably didn’t know that Google Assistant already has over 50 eCommerce integrations such as eBay, Walgreens, Panera Bread, and Whole Foods.

Google wants any size online retailer to build on Google Assistant actions with Google Shopping APIs. These are still in final development, but this will bring another exciting channel to online retailers.

While today this is not ready yet for smaller merchants, Google demonstrated how seamless and fast Google Assistant can be.

Check out this video starting at 12:45 showing a demo of making a purchase using the Google Assistant and Panera Bread.

WAIT, THERE IS A LITTLE MORE FROM GOOGLE I/O FOR ONLINE RETAILERS

Google summarized 101 announcements from Google I/O 2017 in this blog post. As you can see they offered up a lot of news to digest.

The one other eCommerce significant demonstration that Google showed was its improvements on AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages). They offered up a fresh set of new APIs to make web pages faster.

Google also provided a tool to check the AMP score of your mobile page called Lighthouse. You can go here to download the extension for your Google Chrome browser.

While mobile speed is important for ranking, most users in developed countries have access to fast internet on their smartphone. Also, most of those smartphones are of a newer generation so that they can process complex sites a lot better.

AMP is more important for emerging markets where low end 3G service and low-end Smartphones are more in use. In one Keynote, Ola Share, a leading Indian ride share service, showed how they developed a mobile version of their site that scored a 100% in the Google Lighthouse AMP score.

Earlier we mentioned two companies, WompMobile and Mobify, that are taking advantage of the new payment APIs Google is offering. Those two companies provide services to create AMP friendly eCommerce pages for your website.

One nice feature of AMP pages is that they have the look and feel of native apps. So while this is just over a year old, the technology is gaining ground fast.

There is a lot to like about AMP. But off-the-shelf eCommerce platform will need to embrace this technology before the average user can see its benefits.

AMP is the next step beyond responsive design and will require more than a theme. It likely will need an extension or core support to function properly.

MOBILE IS THE FUTURE OF ECOMMERCE AND GOOGLE IS MAKING IT HAPPEN

Google I/O 2017 demonstrated again that mobile is the future of eCommerce.

Many announcements and demos are very exciting for eCommerce. There is the small downside that a shopper will have to give more information to Google for all this payment integration to flow as nicely as demonstrated.

To some extent, the functions shown are a global method to mimic some of Amazon’s checkout. Amazon has the advantage being its own ecosystem so that they can offer an internal wallet with credit card information, they can provide one-click checkout, and they can store multiple billing and shipping addresses.

Google looks to take this simple approach by Amazon and make it available for any size merchant. That is good news for SMBs in eCommerce.



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