At this year’s I/O, Google displayed its vision for a more ubiquitous and conversational way of interacting with technology. Google announced a ton of new products, tools, apps, etc. But you won’t find an overview of these new cool features in this article: we’re here to talk about the opportunities that Google is giving to e-commerce business.
The new buzz word in e-commerce nowadays is “contextual shopping”
Contextual commerce” is the potentially game-changing idea that merchants can seamlessly implement purchase opportunities into everyday activities and natural environments. In other words, people can buy anything, anytime, anywhere, with the click of a button … or even just their voice.
Many retailers are trying to win in this area. In the last two years, Amazon released at least two products that are helping to reach out to users at the moment when they decide to make a purchase:
Amazon Dash is a single, Wi-Fi enabled button that serves one purpose: to order a single, pre-programmed item from Amazon. You can place this button wherever you want. For example, on your washing machine. Next time you need detergent, you just press the button.
Amazon Echo is a hands-free speaker you control with your voice. Echo connects to the Alexa Voice Service to play music, provide information, news, sports scores, weather, and more—instantly. All you have to do is ask. And, of course, you can place your Amazon orders using Amazon Echo.
OK, and how is that related to Google I/O?
Google announced a new device, Google Home. It has full Google Voice search, which can tell you what traffic is like or how many calories there are in an avocado. It plays music and can control smart home devices like lights or the Nest thermostat. If you use Google Calendar, it can check and change appointments.
You can check out Google Home video on youtube: https://youtu.be/5bYSX2C4aWc
What does it mean for e-commerce?
For those retailers who want to compete with Amazon in the contextual shopping space, Google Home might be a great opportunity.
Google announced integrations with Uber, OpenTable, Instacart, WhatsApp, Ticketmaster and more.
There are many use cases that would make sense for retailers as well. You can:
· check the status of you order,
· order products that are on your wish lists, and
· renew subscriptions.
There is no navigation or search interface, but you can use voice search and then send the results to your phone or TV.
Apple just announced an open API for Siri as well. More competitors are entering this space, and it should be really hot soon.
What if the e-commerce app on your phone knew where you were, what you were doing, what’s nearby, and even what the weather was like outside, and then combined this information to react intelligently to your current situation and suggest products or services that you might like?
For example, the app could alert you to stop by the store and pick up your order when you are passing near this store. Or it could suggest the closest frozen yogurt location on a hot day.
To make this possible, Google is introducing a new Awareness API.
This API combines a variety of functions previously available in other APIs – like gaining access to a user’s location or recognizing that they’re now driving their vehicle, for example. It can even sense nearby beacons and devices, which means it can tap into data from things like Android Wear smartwatches, or interoperate with devices like Chromecast (Google Cast) or Google Home.
At Google I/O, Google announced that they will make their in-app PaymentRequest API available to all developers. Now any app that utilizes e-commerce can use your credit cards via Android Pay to make payments, provided you live in a compatible market. The new payments API is not limited to mobile app developers, however, as the Google Chrome team will be integrating Android Pay on mobile web pages for e-commerce sites.
Moreover, Google has submitted the technology to the World Wide Web Consortium, so we may be seeing the Android Pay API become the future standard for all browsers.
In my opinion, standardization of this API is a really smart move by Google. Multiple payment providers are fighting in the area of cross-channel payments. One of the biggest players is PayPal with its OneTouch. PayPal has a lot of loyal users and now provides seamless checkout for web and mobile web. But the user experience is not great for mobile app users.
Apple has just announced support of Apple Pay on the web as well.
But I think that Google beats both of them in this area. First of all, Payment Request API will support not only Android Pay, but any payment method with minimal integration.
Second, PaymentRequest API would provide seamless and easy checkout for web, mobile web, and Android.
And thirdly, the integration is supposed to be super easy.
Please check out the talk on YouTube for more information.
Android Instant Apps
With deep links, Android users will be able to use apps from a link without having to download anything from the Play Store. Google suggested it would be a good option for single purpose apps, like paying for parking at a museum, where you don’t want to deal with the mobile web, but also don’t want to download a full app that sticks around after you leave.
For e-commerce this means that companies can save money on development and postpone /avoid mobile web development (if Android users are the target audience). It should increase android app downloads, which would help e-commerce companies stay connected to the user.
There is a lot more to say about the new products and technologies that Google is about to introduce in our lives. Some of them may sound futuristic right now, but Google one of those companies that makes history in IT. What I really liked about this conference is that it was for developers. Not for business guys, not for sales guys, but for developers.
This year Google organized the conference in the heart of Silicon Valley, in Mountain View. The venue is close to the Computer History Museum and to Google campus. Every time I get there I get really excited about how many ideas were generated in this area and how these guys change the world.
If you haven’t watched the keynote, please do. It might give a hint about our future.