If you thought that ordering delivery couldn't get any easier, Google might convince you otherwise thanks to a new feature that gives mobile users the ability to order food directly from its search results.

Through partnerships with Seamless, Grubhub, Eat24, Delivery.com, BeyondMenu and MyPizza.com, the search giant has updated its mobile search results to include, where appropriate and where available, a "Place an order" button that users can click on to initiate delivery orders.

"When you search for a nearby restaurant on your phone, you’ll see an option to “Place an order” in the search results.

Just tap that, choose the delivery service and you’ll be taken to their website to complete the order," Google explained in a Google+ post.

The changing face of search

While it might seem like little more than a nifty new feature, Google's new functionality is a great demonstration of the changing face of search. While the verticalization of search results is not new, Google's delivery feature suggests that search is likely to become a lot more transactional.

A big part of this has to do with the ubiquity of smart phones, and it's not hard to imagine Google applying transactional functionality to other types of search. Certain product searches, for example, might lend themselves to transactional experiences that drive in-store pickup transactions. 

Of course, the transactionalization of search isn't without potential pitfalls. Google has not indicated if it's receiving compensation from the food delivery providers it is driving traffic to, but it seems logical that Google would seek to monetize these relationships in some way.

That could be bad news for providers that aren't able to afford to play.

There's also the prospect that Google could eventually decide to compete with the providers it has partnered with. If Google's new feature drives substantial enough transaction volume, is it possible that it might choose to cut them out and play in the space itself?

Such concerns are a big part of the antitrust issues the world's largest search engine has faced over the years.

The EU is currently pursuing Google over claims that it has favored its Google Shopping service in the SERPs. When Google bought ITA Software and its flights search software in 2011, companies like TripAdvisor, Expedia, and Kayak expressed fear that Google might have an incentive to act in ways detrimental to their businesses. And similar fears emerged when Google decided to enter the auto insurance market.

It's far too early to predict how the transactionalization of search will change the way companies in certain markets use and are affected by Google, but one thing is certain: mobile's impact on search is just getting started.

Patricio Robles

Published 8 May, 2015 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (1)

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, CINO at Fresh Relevance

Google's post is slightly strange, because you "search for a nearby restaurant on your phone" but the “place an order” button in the search results doesn't take you to that restaurant's website order page, but to a delivery service instead.

Probably Google explained it badly, or maybe this is a specifically US thing, because I would never order food delivery if what I wanted was a nearby restaurant, as they are totally different experiences. Will be interesting to see how it works out.

almost 3 years ago

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