Can Google Win at Retail?

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Can Google Win at Retail?

By Dev Ganesan - 06/04/2018

Google recently announced its Shopping Actions Service that allows consumers to shop directly with top retailers through not only Google Search, but also Google Assistant, and Google Home. Now, rather than simply pointing customers in the right direction, Google puts them directly in the store. While Google’s Shopping Actions is still in its infancy, the tech giant has high hopes for its online shopping service—even to the point of believing it can compete with Amazon.

What’s in it for retailers?

A number of top retailers already participate in Shopping Actions, which provides shipping incentives, Google-hosted checkout via a mobile wallet, and ads that appear in Google Shopping.

  • Anyone Can Join: After seeing early success from some of top retail partners, Google has made Shopping Actions available to any retailer—even lesser-known retailers may join.
  • Put Sponsored Posts to Work: Retailers can also attach themselves to search queries via their sponsored listings, which are similar to sponsored advertisements.
  • Increase Shopper Loyalty: Shopping Actions integrates with merchants’ existing loyalty programs; if customers agree to link their loyalty account with their Google account. Shopping Actions displays relevant search results from the shopper’s favorite retailers.
  • Fill The Baskets: Early adopters of Google’s Shopping Actions experienced encouraging results, including a 30 percent increase in customer basket size, versus retailers that relied only on sponsored ads.

The Need for “Googlizing” Product Content

The potential to increase customers’ shopping baskets, cement loyalty, and get products featured on a universal channel-agnostic shopping cart would be completely meaningless without rich product content that can endure across multiple channels (including voice search). If you want to take full advantage of Google’s new Shopping Actions services, here are a few best practices you’ll want to keep in mind:

  • Centralize Product Information
  • Optimize for Google Content Requirements
  • Create a Workflow to Keep Content Updated
  • Be Smart about Titles, Keywords, and Categories
  • Know Which Promotions Your Audience Responds To
  • Don’t Skimp on Product Descriptions
  • Use High-Quality Product Images

The opportunity that Google presents for retailers is an exciting one: the chance to bring their products front and center, and instantly deliver the goods. In these instances, you may find value in partnering with an experienced product content management provider to help present your products in the best light. ItemMaster specializes in helping accelerate product content strategies that enhance retail sales.

Google recently announced its Shopping Actions Service that allows consumers to shop directly with top retailers through not only Google Search, but also Google Assistant, and Google Home. Now, rather than simply pointing customers in the right direction, Google puts them directly in the store. While Google’s Shopping Actions is still in its infancy, the tech giant has high hopes for its online shopping service—even to the point of believing it can compete with Amazon.

What’s in It for Consumers?

According to Google, Shopping Actions provides consumers with not only more shopping and payment options, but greater convenience in the online shopping experience. For example, Google gives consumers access to a universal shopping cart that is channel-agnostic (customers can add items from any retailer that has partnered with Google). They then can fill, edit, and complete online orders through any channel.

Google is not adverse to taking several pages from Amazon’s playbook—especially with regard to ease of shopping and machine learning for a seamless shopping experience.

  • 1-Click Reordering: Google improves the buying experience with features like instant checkout via Google Pay and 1-Click Reordering of favorite items and products—without having to click through to the retailers’ sites.
  • Personalized Recommendations: Provided to consumers, based on previous shopping behavior, purchases, and product page views.
  • Share Your Shopping List: Via Shopping Actions, customers can easily assemble and share their shopping lists with their Google contacts.

What’s in It for Google?

Google is noted for finding opportunities to extend its influence by creating a more seamless, intuitive, and integrated end-user experience. Google’s online shopping goal is to reduce the number of steps required to help customers find (and buy) goods. And, while this might sound altruistic, Google is a business with a bottom line to consider.

  • Pay-per-Sale: Google has created a pay-per-sale model with its retail partners rather than charge partners on its pay-per-click model. All that is asked is a percentage of each sale—not a pay per click.
  • Translating Searches into Sales: Google’s endgame goes beyond making money off its retail partners; it wants to position the world’s most popular search engine into the world’s largest shoppable marketplace. By securing successful partnerships with top retailers including Costco and Home Depot, Google aims to demonstrate profitability and increase its partner base.
  • Disintermediation and Capture of Electronic Payments: Interchange fees, lack of transparency on basket, and other factors are among the reasons why Google is bullish on controlling the payment stream.
  • Improved Market Share for Google Home: Google Home and Google’s Voice attribute requirements make it easier for consumers to find products—only if manufacturers and content service platforms provide the attributes that comply with high-search capabilities.

Navigating the “Rain Forest”

While the benefits for consumers, Google itself, and the retailers it partners become more and more concrete, Google is still breaking new ground on someone else’s turf. Amazon’s growing offline advantage, the ubiquity of Alexa, and Amazon’s fulfillment services for partners continues to give the retail giant a major advantage over Google.

For Shopping Actions to truly become the next great innovation in online retail, it will have to convince the majority of American consumers to break the habit of going directly to Amazon to search for products—or even worse for Google, making a purchase on Amazon as a result of a Google search query.

ItemMaster is working diligently to ensure suppliers’ products can be found on by retailer sites and on Google.  Voice activation attributes and keywords for SEO are part of our Content+ solution, along with advertising copy and feature bullets.  Check us out at www.itemmaster.com to learn more.

-Dev Ganesan, CEO & President, ItemMaster