Google Trusted Stores, an effective tool for newer e-commerce sites to gain visitor’s trust, has been replaced by Google Customer Reviews. While the old Trusted Stores did feature customer reviews, its purpose was a bit murky as it was also intended as an authentication and consumer protection program for e-commerce stores. By focusing on Google Customer Reviews, Google hopes to align itself better with modern consumer purchasing behaviour.
Nowadays consumers often rely on reviews from larger sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor to recommend good places to eat, the best entertainment venues and more. Google looks to be hoping to capitalise on that by framing the new Google Customer Reviews as a more user review-oriented site. Sometimes review sites are accused of bias, or can fall victim to review fraud as fake reviews are commonly used to artificially boost or deflate business ratings. Google hopes that by throwing its hat into the ring of review sites, it can use its massive influence to help combat fraud and be seen as trustworthy by the general public.
Merchants currently signed up to Google Trusted Stores will be able to display a badge showing their aggregate rating on Google Customer Reviews, from 1-5 stars, on their website for visitors to see. However, Google recently raised the number of reviews required to qualify for a display rating from 30 to 150, meaning that smaller e-commerce sites that are just launching will find it more difficult to get listed at a time when they need it most.
The authentication and consumer protection side of Google Trusted Stores will be retired and merchants still displaying Trusted Stores code on their website will see it replaced with a Google Customer Reviews badge instead. This may hurt newer and less established merchants who relied on Google to provide a sense of trustworthiness to consumer’s in the face of scepticism. Now with the loss of this feature, small merchants will have to hope that either consumers consider Google Customer Reviews an adequate replacement or move on and find another tool of equitable value. Few services have the reputation or level of public recognition that Google enjoys, however, meaning that some merchants may find themselves struggling to secure a trusting clientele.
Google itself seeks to penetrate a new sphere of influence in the popular world of online reviews. With so much competition, it remains to be seen how this will fare.