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Are You Eligible For Google’s Trusted Stores Program? A Checklist.

In its quest to “build a better shopping experience,” Google has launched another online shopping initiative: Google Trusted Stores.  The program aims to boost consumer confidence- after all, who would feel uncomfortable buying from a store backed by Google and $1000 in purchase protection benefits (plus, there’s that shiny Google badge)?
For merchants, the benefits include increased visibility, click-through rates, and ultimately, conversions.  On average, the pilot companies in Google’s test run saw their conversion rates and order sizes increase by 2.98% and 2.21%, respectively.

These perks don’t come without some work for the merchant, however.  To get the Trusted Stores badge, merchants must have a proven track record of speedy shipping and excellent customer service.  Google pulls these two metrics from your shipping and customer service data feeds and assigns your store a grade ranging from A+ to A-.  Fall below an A- and Google revokes your badge until the issues are resolved.

So is your online store badge-worthy?  Start with our checklist!  If you can confirm all of the points below, you’re ready to apply for the Program.

Google Trusted Stores Badge and Report Card

Language and Location

  • Your website content and customer support are in English
  • Your selling items are priced in US Dollars
  • Note: only items shipped to the US are calculated as a part of your Trusted Stores metrics

Your Merchant Account and Website

  • You are the merchant and seller of record for at least 80% on the Merchant site
    • (Merchant of record, MOR – the party that charges the customer’s credit card directly)
    • (Seller of record, SOR – the party that ships or causes the customer’s order to be shipped)
  • Your website is non-discriminatory
  • Your terms of service, privacy policy, return policy, and shipping policies are transparent and easily accessible
    • Your privacy policy outlines your practices regarding the collection, use, and disclosure of information
    • Your policy incorporates information regarding the use of cookies and includes links to Google’s and third party vendors’ cookie opt-out pages
  • Your content adheres to Google’s guidelines and you do not carry any of their listed prohibited products.  A list can be found on Google’s support page
  • You provide a secure way for customers to purchase products.  I.e. Https when sending customer information or financial data
  • Your Merchant profile is up-to-date and is posted to the Google Trusted Stores’ website
    • Corporate profile
    • Logos
    • Contact information
    • Links to your Terms of Service, Privacy Policy, and Return Policy
  • You have accurate and up-to-date data about the availability of your inventory
  • You can provide accurate shipping times that are consistent with the data you provide to Google

Performance Standards

  • You can meet and maintain Google’s Performance Standards regarding Shipping and Customer Service

A Table of Performance Standards for Google Trusted Stores

Customer Service Timeframes

A Table of Customer Service Requirements for Google Trusted Stores

Rules and Restrictions

  • You are not a drop-ship consolidator or multi-level marketer
  • You do not sell items on a conditional basis
  • You do not claim to be associated with Google outside of the Trusted Stores Program
  • You are not part of a marketplace site
  • You can add JavaScript to your confirmation pages
  • You are able to provide daily feeds of shipped and cancelled orders
  • More than 50% of your orders are trackable
  • Your average time to ship is less than 14 days
  • You do not offer goods or services in which payment is taken in advance
  • You ship directly to customers (You may not offer direct to store shipments)
  • You must not cancel more than 2.5% of your orders.  The only cancellation exceptions may be due to:
    • Duplicate or invalid orders
    • Fraud
    • Cancellation upon customer request
    • Compliance with legal requirements

Transaction Eligibility

  • Only orders shipped to the U.S. are eligible for the Google Trusted Stores program.  Orders shipped to PO Boxes are also ineligible
  • Only online orders are eligible as telephone and fax orders are not directly trackable by Google
  • Intangible and/or digital goods and services are ineligible
  • Real estate is ineligible
  • Orders paid with virtual currency are ineligible

Account and Domain Rules and Requirements

  • Only one GTS account per merchant
  • Multiple domains may be registered under GTS account
    • Treated as separate merchant
    • If each domain is similar in terms of performance, google may elect to aggregate info
  • You must submit shipping and order cancellation data feeds
  • You must provide order confirmation and an estimated shipping date for each order
  • You may not hard-code any elements of Google Trusted Stores onto your website

For complete details, check out Google’s Trusted Stores Merchant Guidelines.

After you’ve signed up, submitted your data feeds, and added the Javascript to your website, your page will go into monitoring mode.   Google uses this period to ensure that the code and data feeds are correctly integrated; if this is verified, Google will begin to track your store’s performance via your feeds.

It is unclear, however, when exactly the badge will show on a merchant’s website.  The Merchant Help Center vaguely hints at 250 transactions.  Seeing no badge on his website after meeting the metric, one user asked, and Google responded that a merchant needed to amass 1000 orders before the badge displays.  As seems to be the theme for the last couple of months, Google is still in pilot mode.

We don’t know when the program will be in full swing, but because Google must monitor and track hundreds of transactions before it deems you worthy, merchants should apply for the program now.  If you have the means to create and maintain the data feeds, why not get a leg up on the competition?

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