Google Trusted Stores is Shutting Down: Here’s Why and How

by Grace Miller |

Google Trusted Stores is Shutting Down: Here’s Why and How

google trusted stores is shutting down

Google just announced that Google Trusted Stores is shutting down. The search giant hasn’t provided a specific end date for the certification program for online sellers, which was rolled out in 2012. I’ll be replaced by a new program called Google Customer Reviews.  Let’s take a look at some of the specifics.

What is Google Trusted Stores?

Google Trusted Stores has been a program for online sellers to show that they provide a positive buying experience. Getting a certification has been a somewhat rigorous process. Some of the notable criteria include:

  • Your terms of service, privacy policy, and return and shipping policy are all transparent and easily accessible
  • You provide site security through https:// pages when sending financial and customer information
  • 90% of orders are shipped on time, and at least 50% of orders are trackable
  • Less than 10% of orders get backordered or pre-ordered (a problem for certain in-demand sites)
  • 99% of customer service queries get a response within 2 working days
  • You don’t cancel more than 2.5% of your orders

Provided sellers meet these and other standards, customers shopping at these stores get $1000 worth of purchase protection from Google, plus extra peace of mind. Sellers, meanwhile, generally get better positioning in both organic search through Google Shopping and in text ads.

Google Trusted Stores displays a check next to compliant merchants' search results and ads.
Google Trusted Stores displays a check next to compliant merchants’ search results and ads.

Indicators of trust and authenticity are always crucial in e-commerce. While it’s hard to find data on exactly how much having a Google Trusted Stores certificate helps sellers in terms of actual acquisition and conversion, the consensus has been that it’s particularly useful for smaller sellers or for large brands who are sometimes imitated. Recent plagues of fake shopping apps have shown how names like Michael Kors can be subject to fraud of this kind. We also know that other sorts of solutions that boost site trust, like ratings and reviews software and other user generated content, can increase revenue by 18%.

Why Google Trusted Stores is Shutting Down and What’s Next

We can glean why Google Trusted Stores is shutting down by looking at what we know about its replacement, Google Customer Reviews. In comparison, the latter looks more streamlined and less burdensome for merchants, especially as it’s not a formal certification program. The biggest difference is that Google Customer Reviews, as true to its name, will be reliant on shopper feedback.

There’s no indication that Google Customer Reviews would pertain to specific products in the way that most ratings and reviews platforms do. Rather than leaving feedback about individual items, shoppers would be surveyed about their overall experience.

Merchants will access the new feature through Google Merchant Center, and those who currently have Google Trusted Stores accounts will be migrated automatically to Google Customer Reviews. Merchants using the new tool will need to add a survey opt-in box to their sites. Customers who opt in to Google Customer Reviews will be contacted by Google and asked to rate their purchase once they’ve received it. In order to be in the program, sellers will have to give all customers this option.

After customers submit ratings, the seller can put a Google Customer Reviews badge on their site. It can be customized and show their Seller Ratings if applicable.

What does this mean for sellers?

The fact that Google Trusted Stores is shutting down in exchange for Google Customer Reviews looks largely beneficial for online sellers. It looks like they’ll have to devote fewer internal resources to making sure that they’re compliant, and won’t have to share data with Google about their shipping volume, delivery practices, and so on. This offers a distinct extra benefit to sellers whose time to shipment is slow due to unavoidable factors like stocking customized products.

Instead, by relying on customer feedback, sellers will get a more direct assessment of how they’re exceeding or not meeting expectations. Rather than getting a passing or failing grade based purely on Google’s definitions, they’ll have another avenue in which the ultimate judge’s voice–that of the customer–is clearly heard. This has always been a benefit of product reviews, but now it’ll be more widely applied to the overall customer experience.

The drawback is that if sellers don’t get good reviews, they’ll face challenges. While there are some benefits of negative reviews, it might be the case that merchants will be held to higher standards than they were before.

Google Pop-Up Shop to Launch in New York

google pop-up shop

Fresh off its October 4 hardware announcement, Google broke the news that it’s opening up a pop-up store in Manhattan. The Google pop-up shop will open in conjunction with the release of the company’s hotly anticipated new hardware products, including its first phone–the Pixel–and its Amazon Echo competitor–Google Home.

Google has dabbled in hardware before with products like the Chromebook and its ill-fated Google Glass. These and other ventures–some very successful and others not–were sometimes promoted with pop-up shops. What’s different about this time?

In terms of the products, the Pixel is the most exciting, as it’s the first phone completely made by Google itself. Google Home is notable because it’s another competitor to Amazon’s pioneering home assistant, and is made by a company that has mastered data (sorry, Alfie).

Google Home will be sold in the Google pop-up shop.
Google Home will be sold in the Google pop-up shop.

This leads us into the other thrilling facet of the Google pop-up shop–we’re witnessing an internet emperor move into physical goods and brick and mortar. Consequently, this could be the start of something very exciting and boundary-breaking for tech and retail, or Google might be beaten back online. Additionally, since they’re launching new products and not just revamping old favorites, it makes sense to get customers used to these new offerings by showing them off in stores. After all, it’d take a lot of faith in a brand to buy a $650 phone online without trying it.

Google's Pixel phones.
Google’s Pixel phones.

Pretty much all commentators are lining up the Google versus Apple comparisons at this point. After all, Google’s new focus is on being a vertically integrated hardware business, much like the home of the iPhone. Apple proudly recognizes that differentiated in-store experiences command profits, and the Google pop-up shop experiment is sure to strive to reach that bar.

Google's Daydream View Headset will also be at the Google pop-up shop, allowing shoppers to experiment with VR.
Google’s Daydream View Headset will also be at the Google pop-up shop, allowing shoppers to experiment with VR.

TechCrunch notes that it seems probable that the Google pop-up shop might move to a new location at some point, or will be replicated in different cities. Analysts also speculate that it’ll remain open through the holidays. This is a relatively unknown space for Google, and we’ll be sure to keep you updated on their journey over the next few months!

To learn more about differentiating your store, look at our post, 9 Innovative Examples of In Store Technology! And don’t forget about our latest FAQ sheets, in which our Customer Success Team tells you everything you need to know about Ratings and Reviews and Social Login!

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