Google launched several new features recently that show how focused it is on providing services for brands, retailers, and online merchants, and how it is going beyond the advertising services on which many already rely. Some of the latest developments include the following:
- It made its “Buy on Google” feature more robust;
- It launched a “Free & Fast” annotation to Google Shopping;
- It launched Shoploop product-demo videos (think “TikTok” for shopping).
Google wants to do with retail what it has done with its open ecosystems such as Android, AMP, Play. A Google spokesperson said that’s what the company does best – rather than being the retailer, it sees itself as the open platform.
Google’s long-term strategy is to help every single retailer connect with shoppers on Google, regardless of whether they advertise or not, she said. And it wants to make it as easy as possible for sellers to use the partners, tools and integrations they already use.
The company’s recent moves follow its decision in the spring to open Google Shopping and Google Search to sellers’ product listings at no charge – you can read more in this June 2020 AuctionBytes Blog post.
Sellers should keep in mind that making products eligible for purchase on Google Shopping is not automatic. In addition to having a Google Merchant Center account and uploading their product feed, sellers must opt-in to “surfaces across Google” to be eligible for organic visibility in Search, Shopping and Image results, as Search Engine Land explained.
Sellers should also be aware that shoppers who make a purchase directly on Google Shopping are offered protection through Google Guarantee, which states in part:
Subject to the conditions of eligibility and limitations described below, Google will refund you if:
- Your item never arrives.
- You get the wrong item.
- Your item arrives in poor condition.
- You return your item with a trackable shipping method and the seller does not issue you a refund.
That sounds like an online marketplace!
Making Buy on Google More Robust
You may not have noticed, but Google displays a cart icon next to products that can be purchased directly on its platform. In Google Shopping search, you can filter results to show only “Buy on Google,” just as you can for “Available nearby.”
To encourage more merchants to make their products available for sale directly on Google through “Buy on Google,” it’s offering zero commissions.
“By removing our commission fees,” Google’s Bill Ready wrote in the July 23rd announcement, “we’re lowering the cost of doing business and making it even easier for retailers of all sizes to sell directly on Google, starting with a pilot that we’ll expand to all eligible sellers in the U.S. over the coming months.”
It’s also making it easier for sellers to participate in Buy on Google by adding support for third-party service providers – PayPal and Shopify, to start.
Ready wrote, “We’ve heard from retailers that they want the ability to choose their preferred services for things like payment processing, inventory, and order management. That’s why we’re opening our platform to more digital commerce providers, beginning with Shopify for inventory and order management and PayPal and Shopify for payment processing.
“So, if a retailer wants to sell directly on Google, they can get started even faster and continue using the tools and services that already work for their business. Or, if they’re new to selling online, they’ll be able to choose from multiple options when they sign up in our Merchant Center.”
Google Merchant Center has more information on how to participate on Buy on Google.
Google Free and Fast
On July 15th, Google launched Free & Fast so merchants can highlight their Google Shopping ad listings that offer free and fast shipping:
Free and fast shipping annotations allow you to showcase your products that you can ship quickly and with reliable fulfillment experiences for customers. To participate, you’ll need to provide shipping that is:
- Free: A product can be shipped free of charge to the customer (or free if product price meets minimum basket).
- Fast: A product can be delivered to a customer in 3 business days or sooner, including both transit time and handling time.
Logical Position is one of the two agencies selected by Google as a pilot partner for Free & Fast. Adam Jones, the company’s director of business development who spent over 8 years at Google, said the feature gives sellers a jump on competitors by communicating early with the consumer.
The two biggest hurdles in online shopping are delivery lead time and additional fees at checkout – “Free and Fast eliminates both those barriers by enabling the confidence of shoppers from the onset,” he said.
“Fast and free early results have shown a 9% increase in conversion rates because sellers with this annotation are winning during the evaluation stage of the purchase – meaning this is huge for merchants selling on Google,” Jones said.
Google Launches Short, Shoppable Videos: Shoploop
Google launched a new product-review app called Shoploop that features hair and makeup demos in short video format. Tech publication 9to5Google called it “TikTok for shopping.”
Google is soliciting content creators, publishers, and online store owners in the beauty industry to apply. 9to5Google said Shoploop will launch in additional categories in future updates.
Shoploop showcases videos shorter than 90 seconds that “help you discover new products in an entertaining way, whether you want to try at-home nail stickers, revive your second-day hair or get a concealer that gives full coverage.”
Why does Google think Shoploop shoppable videos will be compelling? Because it helps people get a feel for products without having to go to a physical store. “Shoploop helps you get product reviews from real people who are knowledgeable about the products in a particular area.”
Don’t expect to be able to shop Shoploop on your desktop, however – it’s available only through a mobile app – for now. “The current site is optimized for mobile and we are working hard to bring it to desktop users soon.”
Google promises a simple purchasing experience: “Once you find a product that interests you, you can either save the product to buy it later or click straight to the merchant’s website to complete the purchase.”
And it’s all about the content: “You can also follow your favorite Shoploop creators and share videos you like with your friends and family,” it explains in the Google blog post.
Marcel Hollerbach, CMO at Productsup, said Google’s Shoploop shows that the company does not want to miss out on the social shopping experience. “Shoploop is like a modern telemarketing channel that offers new opportunities for brands and companies to show their products in a different environment and adds the entertainment factor to the shopping experience.”
The Year of Google Shopping
Google hired Bill Ready from PayPal in January to become its President of Commerce, and the pace of ecommerce product features is impressive. Google could not have picked a better year to focus on online shopping with the shift in online behavior due to the pandemic.
We were curious what PayPal had to say about Google’s ecommerce initiatives. A spokesperson provided us with the following statement, which references the recent addition of PayPal into the Buy on Google platform:
“We have a long-standing partnership with Google, including facilitating payments within Google Play, integration into Google Pay and many others. This expanded partnership, which builds on our agreement from April announcing that sellers can link their existing PayPal accounts to Google, will allow merchants to use PayPal for payment processing when they sell products directly on Google. We see this as one more step in the direction of furthering digital commerce.”
You may be asking if Google is trying to become a marketplace. Logical Position’s Jones said he could not speak for Google directly, but he said the simple answer is yes. “With ecommerce already surpassing projections some three years out, it’s evident that the demand is there, and they’d be remiss not to seize the opportunity,” he said.