Search Engine Optimization and Marketing for E-commerce

Implementing Google Trusted Stores

by akagan 10. June 2012 12:45

trustedstoreGoogle announced this week it’s new “Trusted Stores” program, which validates online merchants and monitors their websites for shipping reliability and customer service, is up and running. It seems likely that for participating merchants, having the “Google Trusted Store” badge appear on their website will increase conversions. Google is provided “free purchase protection” for customers that purchase from trusted stores.

Opting into the Trusted Stores program is relatively simple, and made easier if you already publish a product feed through Google’s Merchant program (formerly known as “Froogle” and later on “Google Base”). From it’s merchant sign-up page, merchants are prompted to enter some basic business information, as well as links to their website and various customer-service and privacy-policy pages. Once configured, you can link the trusted stores account to a Google Merchant Center product feed, or upload a product feed in xml format. Linking to an existing merchant account reduces this process to a couple of clicks, and is only one of many reasons to set up a merchant account with Google.

After configuring the account, you need to add the provided javascript code to your website pages, and a second tracking script to your order confirmation page, similar to Google AdWords’ conversion code. Google requires this information so that it can respond to customer service inquiries as part of the “purchase protection” it provides consumers.

Hurry Up and Wait

Once configured, Google places your website in “monitoring mode” until it’s collected enough data to validate your store. During this time the tracking codes are active but the Trusted Store logo will not appear…and it could be some period of time depending on how many orders you process a month. Says Google:

Once you've finished integrating, we will test and validate the data passed via the JavaScript and feeds for a period of time (minimum 28 days and 1,000 orders) and inform you of any integration issues.

During this test period, your site will remain in “monitoring mode,” meaning that the Google Trusted Store badge will not be visible on your site; however, the program may display a module to customers who purchase from your site with an option to opt-in for a survey about their order experience with your store.

It appears that in this initial rollout of Trusted Stores, Google wants to be very careful about validating stores and not damaging their own reputation by backing fly-by-night or black-hat ventures that log thousands of quick sales then shut down. For many small online vendors, reaching these minimum order levels could take months, so Trusted Stores may not be beneficial for every online merchant.

trustedpopOnce clear of the monitoring period, the logo will appear with a mouseover that will pop up a merchant “quick view” ranking their Shipping and Customer Service using a letter rank from “A” to “F”, as well as the number of on-time orders, average shipping days to deliver, and number of customer-service issues resolved and in what timeframe.

On checkout, customers will be provided with the option to opt-in for Google’s “Purchase Protection”, which will share the store’s order information with Google, and allow the customer to communicate with Google about the specific order and have Google intercede with the merchant. Merchants can monitor and these issues and mark them as resolved through their Stores account, although they must work directly with the consumer to resolve the issue.

Google polls each customer opting in for Purchase Protection in the same way Amazon asks customers to rate sellers, with a short survey on delivery time, shipping costs and customer service issues. Customer survey responses are used for the ratings system.

Google provides some simple merchant guidelines for responding to customer service complaints, but it’s the merchant’s responsibility to manage the entire customer service process. Having policies in place to handle customer inquiries is an important step to reducing negative ratings and costs.

Search Partner Pro recommends joining Google’s Trusted Stores Merchant program, as it may provide a valuable tool in increasing conversions, and it’s implementation costs are minimal. One can expect that there will be an added benefit in Google’s shopping rankings for stores already publishing product feeds to Google. We have already set up several clients in the program, and hope to have real-world data soon.

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