* Launches Google Trusted Stores
* Supported by dedicated customer service team
* Working on phone-based shopper support
By Alistair Barr
CHICAGO, June 7 Google Inc is dipping
its toe into the customer-service business as the world's
largest Internet search company steps up competition with
e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc.
Google rolled out a new certification service called Google
Trusted Stores on Thursday that helps shoppers see which online
merchants ship quickly and reliably and which ones offer great
Google has been testing the free service with online
retailers including Wayfair, Timbuk2 and Beau-coup. It is open
to all U.S. merchants starting on Thursday.
Google offers up to $1,000 in what it calls "purchase
protection" to shoppers who opt in to the program when making a
The company has a dedicated customer service team based at
its Mountain View, California, headquarters to help resolve
problems if shoppers are not getting anywhere with the merchant.
Google is also working on providing its own phone-based
support for shoppers in the program, said Tom Fallows, an
e-commerce veteran who is now group product manager at Google
Fallows would not say how many Google employees are working
in these new customer-service positions, but he said the
business is "significantly over-staffed."
The move is unusual for Google, which is known for its
tech-heavy, automated approach to business. About a year ago,
the company started offering phone support for customers of its
dominant AdWords online advertising service. But there are few,
if any, other examples of such a hands-on, employee-centric
approach to customer service, especially for consumer-facing
Google's commitment of such resources shows how important
e-commerce is to the company. In general, the company benefits
if more people search online for products and are confident
enough to buy.
Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor, which helps merchants
sell online, said the new Trusted Stores program may be a step
toward Google building an online marketplace to rival the
success of Amazon.com.
Amazon's third-party marketplace business, which lets other
merchants sell through its web site, has grown rapidly in recent
years and has been a big driver of Amazon's revenue and profit
This success has encouraged more shoppers to search for
products on Amazon.com, rather than going to Google - a
potential threat to Google's search dominance online.