Back in May, Google announced a partnership agreement with online customer service ratings firm StellaService. The licensing deal is designed to bolster the search giant as the go-to destination for product search. The actual integration has yet to launch, and Google is remaining quiet on any roll-out details.
A Forbes report earlier this week claims Google is planning to launch the Trusted Stores initiative with StellaService this fall.
A launch in time for the holiday shopping season would be ideal. Google has declined to comment on timing, however. The article also says StellaService data will appear alongside Google Trusted Stores’ check marks in search results, but again, Google hasn’t announced what the integration will look like or where ratings will appear.
Chief among Google’s competitors for commerce search is Amazon, known for its own deep bank of product ratings and seller reviews. Amazon earned an “excellent” rating by StellaService in May 2013. Google’s licensing deal allows the company to inject StellaService merchant ratings into its services.
The success of Google’s paid shopping model powered by Product Listing Ads underscores what’s at stake for the power players in product search. Google has already said that StellaService ratings will be integrated with Google Trusted Stores and has hinted that the data will be incorporated in other products as well.
It’s not clear how many retailers have signed on to the Google Trusted Stores program since it rolled out in the US in June 2012. In addition to adhering to Google’s transaction requirements — including shipping 500 orders per month minimum, which shuts smaller retailers out of the program – merchants must also be comfortable giving Google access to their order data. Many aren’t.
Google has since ended a test that displayed a badge in text ads of Google Trusted Store merchants. By hovering over the badge, users could see a merchant’s ratings. Today Trusted Stores is promoted only on Product Listing Ads. The Trusted Stores check mark appears next to the names of participating retailers, but no ratings information is provided. Typically mid-sized retailers are shown to be participating. StellaService conducts retailer reviews independently, which means merchants don’t relinquish access to back-end data. Anonymous shoppers place some 20,000 online orders a month, gathering data on roughly 300 metrics on customer support, shipping quality and returns and refunds, according to Forbes. The company has reviewed thousands of online stores.
When powered by StellaService’s deeper set of metrics and broader set of sellers, Google Trusted Stores stands to become a much stronger proposition for both merchants and consumers.