webGoogle recently announced the launch of a new “Buy Now” button which will enable consumers to purchase merchandise from participating retailers instantly.

We can’t tell you exactly when the new feature will be launched other than it is “imminent” – according to the company’s chief business officer, Omid Kordestani.

The move comes in retaliation to a string of other instant purchase options from big-name platforms like Amazon, Facebook and Twitter.

The “Buy Now” button will be added to mobile search results enhancing Google’s belief that handheld devices are the way forward for online consumers.

On the face of it the instant purchase feature sounds like it could offer promising benefits to online retailers. But this is Google we’re talking about. You guessed it, there’s a catch!

Pros and cons of Google Buy Now button

The Buy Now button will only feature alongside paid search ads. Therefore, you have to pay before you can benefit.

This wouldn’t be so bad if consumers were directed to your online store whereby you have more control of the shopping experience and pick up page rank points – except that is not how it works.

The Buy Now feature directs browsers to Google’s own product pages. Consumers enter their details there and a notice is sent to retailers who arrange for the merchandise to be shipped. The plus for retailers here is it cuts your admin down.

However, given visitors ultimately bypass the host site, you lose traffic data which may ultimately affect your search engine rankings once you choose to quit PPC. You will however receive consumer data for future marketing.

The move will change the way in which online shoppers buy products and interact with brands. Essentially there is little to no action with brands although Google should be expected to name the host site which the shopper is buying from.

Whether the Buy Now button will have a negative or a positive impact on online brands – especially small businesses – remains to be seen. It is likely that only eCommerce sites will be affected initially, but who knows how far this purchasing process will go!

What does this mean for online retailers?

The main concern for online retailers is they lose some control over user-experience. This however may not be a bad thing given Google’s focus on creating a good UX and penalising sites that do not provide one.

There is the potential for Google to make online shopping easier for both customers and retailers, but it also has the potential to favour large brands that have the marketing budget to promote their products.

Another concern for retailers is the loss of control to build customer relationships and loyalty bonuses. Google could drive your customers into the arms of your competitors.

So the Buy Now button hangs in the balance and could be an experiment that goes so horribly wrong it is scrapped before Christmas.

Essentially, the search engine is forcing firms to pay for search advertising and although there is the potential for retailers to generate more sales revenue, there is only one real winner here.