As more shoppers become comfortable in ordering from their homes, retailers are looking for new routes to increase their digital sales. Google Shopping is one of the channels making itself better positioned to cater for this increased demand, by allowing merchants to list on it’s platform completely free of charge during 2020.
What is Google Shopping?
The Google Shopping service allows consumers to search for products available in their country from various merchants, and purchase either directly from the merchant’s website or through the platform. The service began in 2002 and has since expanded to become one of the largest growing platforms for online retailers to list their products. Google provides their “Google guarantee” to users, which ensures a refund of purchase in the event that the buyer does not receive their product or receives an incorrect product.
Consumers access the platform either through a simple Google search or from the Google Shopping homepage. A simple product search on Google will result in an image-based product navigation bar appearing under the search bar, with a selection of retailers who sell the product and a clear view of prices for the user to compare. Users then select the product that they wish to purchase and are directed to the retailer’s website to proceed with their purchase.
When a user accesses the Google Shopping homepage, they are able to search for their desired product and apply various filters such as price parameters, product features, and the product’s condition. Depending on the popularity of each product search, there is usually the option to see reviews and related products, which enables the user to further define their search.
What's happened with Google Shopping in 2020?
The previous Google Shopping model required merchants to pay the company to list their products on a Cost Per Click (CPC) basis, when users clicked the retailers’ advertisements. However, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Google has now opened it’s shopping service to small-scale merchants by eliminating the payment model for listing products, as well as sorting products in order of relevance instead of being influenced by CPCs. The CPC model will continue for retailers who choose to advertise on the platform.
Google’s President of Commerce, Bill Ready, has said that, “Search results on the Google Shopping tab will consist primarily of free listings, helping merchants better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google.”
These actions should provide some level of equilibrium in the online retail market with smaller independent merchants being given better access to millions of consumers and larger scale retailers augmenting their advertising with free listings on the platform. This comes at a time where eCommerce is being relied on in lieu of physical stores and physical advertising and the shift to a virtual marketplace ensures that small businesses can still operate and sell products.
Google’s ramping-up of it’s eCommerce features comes as Amazon’s dominance in the market is encouraging many platforms to compete. Google is uniquely advantaged by having access to a wide variety of merchants through its Google AdWords platform and business features. The shopping platform could be seen as a community for merchants, who already rely on Google searches, to boost traffic to their websites.
Google has already implemented these changes to it’s shopping platform in the United States and aims to implement the free listing feature globally by the end of the year. This could encourage other online marketplaces to change their models, and encourage greater equity for small businesses struggling to be discovered in the flooded market.
How to add products to Google Shopping
Currently only available in the United States, existing users of Google Shopping may be eligible to display their products free of charge by selecting “growth” and then “manage programs” in the left navigation menu, and selecting the “surfaces across Google” program card to opt into the program.
New merchants wishing to show their products for free are required to open a Google account and register in Google’s merchant centre following the requirements for business registration. From there, merchants can begin producing their product feed through the “surfaces across Google” feature.
Google has also said that it is planning to partner with PayPal to streamline the onboarding process: ”We’re also kicking off a new partnership with PayPal to allow merchants to link their accounts. This will speed up our onboarding process and ensure we’re surfacing the highest quality results for our users.”
To read more about how you can submit your products to the Google Shopping platform, follow this link.
ION’s CEO, Simon Turnbull, advises: “This is a key time for all companies to take advantage of additional market share opportunities, whether they are struggling or blooming due to the pandemic. Google is providing a clear opportunity for businesses to grow and optimise their digital marketing, whilst also lowering overall cost of acquisition, which can be further invested back into digital channels to grow brand and product awareness.”