There has never been a better and more energizing time to be an online seller. Of course, there are still challenges. Online marketplaces are competitive, and some have strict requirements for using their platforms. Others are completely ungated, like Amazon. Amazon dominates the US ecommerce market, but a few competitors are trying to change that, one of whom is Google Shopping.
Google Shopping, formerly known as Google Product Search, Google Products, and Froogle (no, that’s not a typo), is a Google service that enables users to find products through several different Google channels.
For sellers, Google Shopping has many similar features to Amazon.
Like Amazon, Google Shopping allows qualified sellers to offer free shipping for select products, and anyone with a Google Merchant account and a Google AdWords account can list products through Google Shopping channels.
Google Shopping also offers “The Google Guarantee,” which allows customers to return products through Google Shopping if they aren’t satisfied. This offer is available only through sellers approved by Google.
Google Shopping is available to consumers in 121 countries. Amazon, in comparison, has marketplaces in 20 countries, but shoppers from outside a given marketplace may still purchase from it. Both platforms — Amazon and Google Shopping – also allow shoppers to turn on price tracking for products that they’re interested in, alerting shoppers if the price fluctuates for products they’re tracking.
When sellers list products on Google Shopping, shoppers can engage with the product in several ways, including Google Shopping Ads on Google’s search engine results page (SERP), the Google Shopping webpage, the Google Shopping app, or through Google Assistant. Each channel is slightly different and creates a unique experience for consumers.
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When a consumer enters a search query for a product through Google Search, they arrive at the Google search engine results page (SERP). On that SERP, they will see Google Shopping Ads for products related to their query. These ads typically appear along the right side of the SERP.
Google Shopping Ads are very similar to Amazon Sponsored Product Ads. Like Amazon’s Sponsored Products, Google Shopping Ads are pay-per-click (PPC) ads that are run through Google AdWords based on shoppers’ search queries. Sellers can only control information in the listing, such as images, price, description, videos, and so on. These PPC campaigns are created through a seller’s Google AdWords account. Like Amazon Sponsored Product Ads, these ads are positioned at the top of the SERP and help sellers rank without spending too much time on listing optimization.
Sellers can directly create listing for their products Google Shopping. These listings will show up in three places: the Google Shopping Webpage, the Google Shopping App, and on Google Assistant.
The next way consumers can find products through Google Shopping is by going directly to the Google Shopping platform itself at shopping.google.com. There, shoppers can search for specific products, view trending items and promotional offers, browse departments and stores, leave reviews, and place orders.
Similar to other Google services, the Google Shopping webpage offers a clean and sleek user experience, unlike Amazon, which can sometimes create a sensory overload.
Consumers can also use Google Shopping to find products is through the Google Shopping app, which is available on iOS and Android devices. On the app, users can search for specific items, see trending items, see promotional offers, browse departments, and place orders. Unlike the Google Shopping webpage, users cannot browse stores or leave reviews on the app.
The final way consumers can use Google Shopping is by placing orders through Google Assistant (an artificial intelligence developed by Google that is available on mobile and Google smart home devices). Google Assistant can only purchase products or bring up search queries.
In May 2021, Google announced that it was going to expand its partnership with Shopify, enhancing user experience and easing the buyer’s journey for consumers. This allows users more options and capabilities when searching for products on Google Shopping while also allowing Google to position itself to be more competitive with ecommerce giant, Amazon.
Through this partnership, products on Shopify sites are more discoverable across Google through Search, Maps, Lens, Images, and YouTube “with just a few clicks.”
In this announcement, Google also explained the evolution of their shopping technology, Shopping Graph. According to Google:
“The Shopping Graph is a dynamic, AI-enhanced model that understands a constantly-changing set of products, sellers, brands, reviews and most importantly, the product information and inventory data we receive from brands and retailers directly — as well as how those attributes relate to one another. With people shopping across Google more than a billion times a day, the Shopping Graph makes those sessions more helpful by connecting people with over 24 billion listings from millions of merchants across the web. It works in real-time so people can discover and shop for products that are available right now.”
Through this technology, Google can better market and sell Shopify’s products. One way they do this is through the Lens tool. When a user clicks on an image containing a product they are interested in, they can zoom in, signaling Google Lens to crawl the web and match the image with its product listing. This tool is beneficial to both consumers and sellers, as it creates an easy process to match demand with supply.
In addition to the Lens feature, the Google Chrome browser will display shopping carts containing not-yet purchased items for users to come back to if they forgot about them. This comes as the buyer’s journey is not always a straight line from start-to-finish. Oftentimes, shoppers will come back to a listing numerous times before making a purchase. By adding the shopping carts to the browser, Google gives users the opportunity to return to their carts (and their shopping experience as a whole) with ease.
As Google rolls these changes out, Shopify is releasing expansions of their own. Coming late 2021, Shopify announced that it will add its “one-click checkout” option for shoppers on Google Shopping as it already has on Facebook and Instagram. The company’s Shop Pay addition makes payments faster, more efficient, and more secure for users while increasing conversions for sellers. The new offering will prove to be extremely beneficial as it will tag onto Google’s already released additions to create an even better user experience.
Like Google’s partnership with Shopify, the company will soon also offer free services to WooCommerce, GoDaddy, and Square. Through this increase in retailer choices, consumer choices will increase as well.
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