Overview of Google Shopping
- As announced in May, Google has launched a new “Shopping” homepage featuring personalized product recommendations.
- Users who are logged into their Google accounts will see a Shopping homepage with deals from Google’s big-box retail partners. Buyers will also see an “Explore Stores” section where they can access all partner vendors, including brands and independent ecommerce shops.
- The full Google Shopping experience mirrors the old Google Express site, though it’s enhanced with more filters, product videos and reviews. Earlier in July, Google also rolled out a new feature bringing customer photos to product reviews.
- Select items are backed by a “Buy with Google” guarantee that refunds customers if products arrive late or defective. The blue “Buy with Google” tag further indicates that a customer can easily check out on Google rather than navigating to an external site.
- Google Shopping gives buyers the option to purchase products through Google's checkout, a merchant's own webstore or a nearby physical store (when applicable).
- The recent updates are part of Google's larger plans to merge the best of its ecommerce offerings (Google Express, Shopping Actions and the Google Shopping tab). All products will now be listed side by side, regardless of whether they're available for purchase on Google or an external site. However, only products listed directly on Google can be added to a buyer's universal shopping cart.
Alas, Google has unveiled its new “Shopping” homepage for all U.S. consumers. As promised, the new homepage features personalized product recommendations based on a user’s search activity when they’re logged into Google. While one Forbes writer encountered a homepage section prominently titled “Inspired by your Google activity,” my homepage omitted such a section. Instead, it subtly gave suggestions under a general category.
As shown, I googled for “sunscreen” recently (and yes, I searched for an epilator, too). What’s interesting to note is that I never searched for sunscreen directly on Google—I checked Amazon, Sephora and Ulta for a particular brand. Moreover, I can find products sold by Amazon on Google Shopping. While Google seems to be at obvious odds with Amazon in the e-tail space, it maintains the same standard as it does on its regular search engine: a “no man left behind” mentality.
Therein lies one key differentiator. Google advocates a “buy however you want, whenever you want” message above competing as a retailer. Unlike Amazon, Google has no concrete plans to warehouse, price or ship products itself.
Google’s blueprint is for an online shopping mall. With its universal shopping cart (soon to be expanded to Google Images and Youtube) and local inventory information for over two billion products, Google is paving the way to omnichannel commerce.
The Great Advantage for Brands on Google Shopping
Brands selling on Google Shopping are in a promising position. As Google aims to make products searchable and buyable in any form, buyers are being driven to merchant sites and physical stores rather than staying restricted to Google.
In fact, customers can easily find a full list of vendors, sites and nearby store locations where a product is offered directly from the listing. This is a far departure from marketplaces that tend to hide Buy Box competitors from sight.
Google simultaneously puts brands front and center during the checkout process. As shown in the example below, Target’s logo is displayed across various pages, even as the product is being bought directly from Google. Customers are even prompted to sign up for Target’s newsletter at checkout. Target, in turn, will receive the customer’s email, name and shipping address to build out its contact list.
Needless to say, Google Shopping is still evolving. But early signs show that it’s meant to complement retailers and brands. Its recent push towards a personalized shopping experience is evidence of that. Beyond giving brands due recognition, Google encourages repeat purchases by recommending related products and making it easy to restock on items via the Shopping site, Google Assistant and other connected platforms.
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