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Trust in Me, Just in Me - Google Trusted Stores

Date published: October 07, 2011
Last updated: October 7, 2011

Google recently launched their newest e-commerce targeted project, Google Trusted Stores, with a goal of adding confidence to online shopping. Using a scorecard and Trusted Store logo, Google is hoping to provide users with an easy way to identify those online retailers that will "offer a great experience." They define this as shipping on time and providing excellent customer service. Should the Trusted Store fail, Google will work with you and the store (likely as an intermediary with no resolution powers) to resolve the issue.

While the project is currently in very limited beta, it appears to have quite a lot of work put into it. There is already a public-facing badge along with a pop-up scorecard for participating websites. So far, there has been no announcement that Trusted Stores will receive any special treatment in Google's Results Pages. But, I can imagine that much like the +1 button and the Google Checkout logo for Shopping Results, this too will make an appearance somewhere.

Google's Requirements

Currently, the only requirement that Google has made public for joining this program is filling out the interest form, and providing Google with transaction information to prove that you fulfill their performance standard requirements. Google will then use the information to qualify the store for the program and to generate the store's report card. The report card appears to use the American education grading system of A+ to F-. However, this is only inferential; as no detailed information can be found about the report card itself on the Google Trusted website.

Purchase Protection

The most touted benefit of this new Google Trusted Stores program is that Google will help you to resolve any issues that may arise while doing business with a Trusted Store. However, users are not automatically given what Google is calling Purchase Protection. When completing checkout on a Trusted Stores site, the user must select to opt the order in to purchase protection from Google. Whether opting in for purchase protection is free or not, is not information available on the website.

Once you’ve opted in, Google says that your first step when attempting to resolve the issue should be to contact the store, not Google. If you do not receive a response or the store fails to fix your issue, then contact Google - which requires you to set up a Google Trusted Stores Customer Account or just have a Google account and email and access your order history. Submit the report to Google and they will work with you and the merchant to resolve the issue.

Fears & Feedback

People have reviewed this new program with a wide spectrum of feedback ranging from support to satire. Most people worry that this will create an elite tier of e-commerce sites. Specifically, they worry it will create ones that Google will support both with this program, and through ranking supports. It would do this by making Trusted Stores a benefit factor in the algorithm. There's no doubt the intent of the program is to increase confidence and security in online commerce. But, I do believe these fears are legitimate. We already know that most users prefer the top rankers in the results page. And, by adding the Google trusted badge, this may lead to more user bias towards certain sites in the results.

Ultimately, this program doesn’t look beneficial for Google. And, it will likely be discontinued. However, in the meantime, I’m excited to see the program. I'm also eager to get some purchase protection that doesn’t really protect me, but just add another level of customer service for me to gripe to when my phone service sucks.

For some added nay-saying of the program, see a Satire by Scott Cleland over on Forbes. I don’t agree with most of his article, but it is a fun read.

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