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Here's how Google wants you to buy stuff on mobile

Here's how Google wants you to buy stuff on mobile

Users can search for hoodies and buy an Under Armour item from the search results page

A new link in some ads in Google's mobile search results will let users buy products like this hoodie.

A new link in some ads in Google's mobile search results will let users buy products like this hoodie.

Google is rolling out a new service that lets users buy retail items directly from the search results page on mobile devices, in an effort to make mobile search more useful and give advertisers a new way to attract customers.

A new link reading "Buy on Google" will appear in the ads that show up after users search for certain retail items. Clicking on that link will take you to a retailer-branded product page hosted by Google where you can get more information about the product, like reviews, and select item quantities. A checkout button will let you enter and save payment information, and provide a shipping address, before placing the order.

Google had been rumored to be prepping the service, which it calls Purchases on Google. On Wednesday, the company talked a little more about how it will look and work, in announcements online and during a retail-focused event in New York.

Google says it's still testing the feature, with a limited number of retailers participating such as athletic-clothing maker Under Armour, handbag and luggage retailer eBags, and office-supply vendor Staples.

As Google scales the feature, it could help it to invigorate the growth of its service as consumers increasingly spend much of their time using other apps on their smartphones. Google's sales rose by 12 percent in the first quarter, though it was the slowest rate of revenue growth since 2013.

The buy button also arrives as other rival online services -- ones not typically thought of as e-commerce sites -- make changes to incorporate their own buy buttons or help users conduct retail transactions. Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are all trying out some form of the idea, in an effort to keep users active on their sites.

In addition to Google's buy button, the company has made other changes to its service to provide more types of information about retail items and stores. The company's Google Now service will display information about stores and their inventory when users are physically nearby. Google has also made other enhancements to its ads to provide additional information like product ratings and store availability.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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