This post was originally published in Button's newsletter, Mobile Commerce Weekly,  your guide to the most important and interesting stories in mobile commerce. Subscribe today.

At Button, we believe commerce is the future of the internet. So does every tech giant, as it turns out. 

Just look at Google. In January, Google announced some product changes that it says will make it easier for users to shop from mobile search results. Searching for a product like "wide-leg pants," to use Google's example, will result in a list of products across multiple retailers.

Taken alone, the changes seem small. But they're a part of Google's larger efforts to close the commerce gap with Amazon. A few other efforts:

  1. In October, it added price-tracking and Google Lens-powered visual search to its Google Shopping app.
  2. In November, it expanded its Showcase Shopping Ads to Google Images and YouTube.
  3. And in December, it hired former PayPal chief operating officer Bill Ready to head up its commerce business.

Why commerce? Why now? When it comes to product search, Google has a serious case of Amazon envy. Since 2016, Google's referrals to retailers have fallen nearly 18%, signaling that it's losing its lead as the starting point for consumer product discovery. This comes at time during which Amazon's own search business continues to grow. According to eMarketer, Amazon's search ad business will grow 30.7% this year, after 29.5% growth last year.

Put another way, when consumers are looking for a product, they're starting on Amazon, not Google. (Check out the chart below from eMarketer.)


Another front in the war over the starting point of commerce. As Button CEO Michael Jaconi wrote recently in the wake of PayPal's Honey acquisition, nearly every big tech company is battling to be the place that users start their shopping journey. Why? Because influencing the commerce starting point opens up both new revenue streams and opportunities to influence every other part of the purchase funnel, including payments.