Update (September 19, 2019): Google is no longer requiring merchants to fill out an interest form to gain access to Google Shopping Actions, which adds the universal shopping cart to your listings and allows customers to buy your products from wherever they are on Google. Now, any seller with a Merchant Center account can instantly enable Google Shopping Actions. Learn how to activate Shopping Actions.
Update (July 24, 2019): Google's new Shopping homepage is now live in the US! Learn more about the recent rollout.
For over half a decade, Google has been building an online shopping mall, Google Express.
While an opportunity for lesser-known brands to share the stage with Costco, Best Buy and other famous names, Google Express has struggled to stick with online shoppers, who rarely know what it is and how to access it. Meanwhile, many sellers have confused Google Express with Google Shopping and Shopping Actions—three different services.
But the horizon is looking brighter. Earlier this month, Google announced that it will be merging Google Express with Google Shopping, combining the best of each platform to create a more unified, immersive ecommerce destination. The big picture? A personalized Shopping homepage, a universal shopping cart and expansive reach for participating merchants.
Personalized Google Shopping Homepage
In its newer form, the Google Shopping homepage will let buyers filter products by their favorite brands and most-desired features, e.g., if they’re searching for headphones, they can filter by “wireless” and “Bose.” Buyers will also be able to conveniently view product reviews and videos.
No two homepages will look alike, according to Search Engine Land. Each homepage will feature recommendations based on a person’s shopping history, search history and lists. It’ll include localized pickup and delivery options (a key differentiator from Amazon), made possible through Google’s mapping of two billion products to local retailers and local product inventory listings via retailer product feeds.
Universal Shopping Cart
Items by Google Shopping Actions merchants will sport shopping cart icons. These icons are meant to distinguish products that can be bought on Google versus a merchant's website. When clicked, the item will be added to a universal shopping cart that is backed by a Google guarantee. Think: easy returns and customer service if an item were to arrive late or defective.
Aside from offering local product delivery, the shopping cart will support frictionless checkout, whereby buyers can complete transactions through Google using credit cards associated with their Google accounts.
Google will collect the payment and commission (a nod to Google Express’s transaction-based revenue model), while merchants fulfill the order.
Note that these ‘authenticated’ listings will still live next to Shopping Ads products that must be bought from your site. Your product’s ranking depends on factors like the expected buy rate, price, user affinity and more.
Expansive Reach for Merchants
If your brand is already participating in Google Shopping Actions, you’ll automatically be added to this new shopping experience. Your Google Express app will evolve into Google Shopping. Your products, in turn, will be displayed across Google.com, Google Assistant—and soon, Google Images and YouTube.
For those looking to drive more traffic to your own website, Shopping Ads are also getting revamped. You’ll be able to decide what platform (e.g., Images versus Google.com) to display your ads. Showcase Shopping ads are also being expanded to surfaces like Google Images and the feed on Discover (the list of content that shows on your Google homepage even when you’re not searching) and prominently show when in-store pickup is available, too.
Similarly, Smart Shopping campaigns will let brick and mortar retailers optimize for store visits by displaying local inventory information.
Merchants will have to fill out an interest form to take advantage of this feature. They’ll also be required to publish product landing pages on their sites to show when in-store pickup is available and connect a local inventory feed to Merchant Center that shows which items you have in stock or can be quickly shipped to a local store.
The Bottom Line
Google’s redesign of Shopping is aimed at converting buyers who regularly use Google to find and research products. While articles, videos and images have always been known facets of today’s buying process, Google hasn’t always succeeded in supporting the last leg of the experience: purchase.
The revamp promises a more cohesive experience. As buyers enjoy a seamless shopping experience, sellers benefit from widespread exposure and a greater slice of the 3.5 billion Google searches per day.
Need help getting started? Zentail can get you onboarded onto Google in a matter of weeks and includes easy-to-use listing, inventory and automation tools for managing your catalog across multiple ecommerce marketplaces. Learn how you can add another sales channel without increasing your burdens.
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