October 4, 2011, 2:29 PM

Google’s new seal of approval

The search giant’s Trusted Store program could help shoppers avoid poor service online.

Lead Photo

An exampe of the Trusted Store information.

Google Inc. has begun testing a program called Trusted Stores that lets participating e-retailers include a Google endorsement on their e-commerce pages. The program also includes a way for consumers to ask Google to help resolve issues with orders that they are unable resolve themselves. Google says the Trusted Stores program will help shoppers identify e-retailers that offer strong shopping experiences and help consumers feel confident about buying online.

E-retailers that want to participate in the Trusted Stores program must give Google shipment data, such as the average amount of time it takes to ship an order and average on-time shipping rate. They must also permit Google to collect customer service data from consumers that have issues with their orders. Using this data, Google assigns a grade, such as A+, A or A-, for shipping and issue resolution. E-retailers can then display a Google Trusted Store emblem on web pages that, when hovered over with a mouse, expands to show these grades.

BeachAudio.com is one of the handful of e-retailers testing the program. Consumers visiting the site see a Google Trusted Store emblem on the lower right side of the home page. It expands to show that the e-retailer has an A score for reliable shipping and details the metrics used to compile that store. For example, the expanded seal says 99% of orders, based on data collected from more than 10,000 orders, ship on time and that BeachAudio.com takes an average of one day to ship an order. The electronics and accessories e-retailer also gets an A for excellent service, as 99% of issues are resolved in less than two days and less than 1% of consumers ask Google for help resolving an issue.

Beach Audio Inc. is No. 413 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide. The retailer provided no immediate comment. Other participating e-retailers include Overstock.com (No. 27), Wayfair.com (formerly CSN Stores LLC, No. 51) and BabyAge.com (No. 286). 

Consumers who complete a purchase with Trusted Store e-retailers can opt in to receive Google’s free purchase protection program on their order, writes Tom Fallows, group product manager on Google’s commerce team, in a blog post this week. If there’s an issue with the order, Google will work with the e-retailer on the customer’s behalf to address the problem. Google says eligible issues for which it will intervene include the consumer not receiving the correct item, the item not arriving in the promised condition, billing errors, the item not being shipped in a timely manner and the e-retailer failing to honor its return policies. Google is also offering a purchase protection guarantee for up to $1,000 on orders placed with participating retailers.

Google is limiting the number of e-retailers involved in the pilot program, but merchants can fill out an interest form on Google.com to receive an alert when the program expands. The company did not reveal any costs associated with the Trusted Stores program.

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