Google Pivots Its Shopping Search to Mostly Free Listings

Jamie Grill-Goodman
Editor in Chief
Jamie goodman

Retailers will now be able to get free exposure to millions of consumers who visit Google Shopping amid the uptick in e-commerce brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Until now, Google has charged merchants whose products appear when shoppers click the Shopping tab on Google’s search engine. Google’s shopping rival Amazon only charges to promote items high on searches, Reuters notes, but takes a cut of their sales. 

As competition heats up along with online shopping, Google announced it will make it free for merchants to sell on Google staring next week, and the free listings won’t just be lost in the crowd. It said Google Shopping tab search results will consist “primarily of free listings,” regardless of whether retailers advertise on Google. Advertisers will be able to augment paid campaigns with free listings.

“With hundreds of millions of shopping searches on Google each day, we know that many retailers have the items people need in stock and ready to ship, but are less discoverable online,” said president, Commerce, Bill Ready.

These changes will take effect in the U.S. before the end of April and the company aims to expand the offering globally before the end of the year.

The new policy had been in the works for some time, Ready told Reuters, but was brought forward as some stores struggle to find buyers because of the virus. Some merchants said they lost sales during the outbreak when stopped offering fast shipping on some products so it could prioritize “essential items.”

Google is also kicking off a partnership with PayPal to allow merchants to link their accounts.

“This will speed up our onboarding process and ensure we’re surfacing the highest quality results for our users,” said Ready.


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