Google has acquired the technology and assets of KikScore, a Washington DC and Denver-based provider of online trust seals for small businesses. The announcement was made on the KikScore blog.
The KikScore product, which serves over 1,700 small businesses in various countries with its trust seals, will no longer be available as of June 28, 2012. So if you are an existing customer, you will need to find an alternative. The KikScore announcement recommends that website owners try out the Google Trusted Stores product.
The two products are both designed to increase sales, by showing buyers that they can trust a business. However, they are different in the implementation.
Google Trusted Stores focuses on helping buyers at eCommerce stores feel confident that high standards of on-time shipping and customer service will be met. Google Trusted Stores also offers buyers the ability to opt in for purchase protection (up to $1,000 in lifetime purchase claims), including Google’s promise to step in and attempt to resolve billing, shipping or return issues. Merchants who display the Trusted Stores badge have to meet Google’s standards for shipping and service issues.
In other words, Google Trusted Stores focuses on eCommerce transactions. Here’s an example of a Google Trusted Store seal in the lower right corner of an etailing site, showing the information the buyer gets when mousing over the seal:
KikScore, by contrast, focuses on the broader reputation of the business, by reassuring buyers and site visitors of who stands behind the business, the financial stability of management, how secure the website is, customer feedback, and that the business in general can be trusted. Social Matchbox quotes KikScore CEO Rajeev Malik as describing KikScore this way:
“… a patent-pending online reputation score and interactive report card for small businesses around the world. KikScore enables online small businesses to take information and reputational data about themselves, their track record of responsibility and dependability and show their website visitors that their business can be trusted. Small businesses do this by placing the interactive KikScore Confidence Badge, real-time merchant report card and comment platform on their website so they can close more leads and sell more.”
Through this acquisition, Google now has access to KikScore’s patent-pending technology. That technology is complementary to, yet different from, the Google Trusted Stores approach. One big difference: KikScore’s approach, being focused on reputation of the business, applies to more than just eCommerce companies. For instance, consultants and accountants could use the KikScore Confidence Badge on their sites. Here is an example of a KikScore Confidence Badge on a law firm website:
No details were released about what Google plans to do with its newly acquired technology from KikScore.
However, this seems to be a sign that Google intends to expand its Trusted Stores program. The Google Trusted Stores program was launched in the fall of 2011. Until recently it has had a low profile. In fact, Internet Retailer referred to Trusted Stores as a “test” and quotes a Google official as saying as recently as April 2012 that only a “couple of hundred retailers” participate in the program. That’s a fraction of KikScore’s customer base of 1,700.
Also in April 2012, Pamela Parker at Search Engine Land spotted the Google Trusted Stores badge on Google AdWords. When mousing over the badge, a pop-up shows trust information right in the ad itself. Use of the Trusted Stores badge in ads by retailers was also described as a test.
Perhaps with this acquisition, Trusted Stores will move out of “test” mode.