It’s not the first time Google has set their sights on Amazon. However, in April 2020 Google Shopping set out in a new direction. This time, instead of competing on the same field and borrowing from Amazon’s well-established playbook, they are taking a new approach.
As the retail industry was facing the challenges caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, Google seized the opportunity to advance their plans to allow merchants to list their products for free on Google Shopping.
The new direction aims to gain traction by offering a cheaper and less restrictive platform for sellers than traditional marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. This is backed with the increased prominence of Google Shopping results in Google's Search, Images, Maps and other channels (Surfaces).
Google Shopping is also unique in the way it drives shoppers to the seller’s sites instead of making them buy through its own platform. This gives sellers the advantage of having a direct relationship with their customers, making it easier for them to generate repeat business, and allowing them to differentiate from other brands with the unique look and feel of their website.
Google Shopping has also solidified the primary interface as the shopping tab on Google.com, with the IOS and Android shopping app set to be discontinued after its short 19-month life.
The Merchant Center, through which sellers can manage their product listings, currently integrates with PayPal and Shopify allowing for partially automated product listing setup and management. With more partner integrations likely to be added soon this makes the platform even more accessible to businesses of all sizes.
While listings are now free, the platform still retains the ability to pay for ads that will put you above the organic results. It is still unclear if Google Shopping receives enough traction from consumers to make it worthwhile to divert budget from other campaigns for these ads.
It is yet to be seen whether these new efforts will be enough to get enough merchants on the platform and ultimately create an experience that can change consumer shopping behaviour. Currently, many businesses are still focusing their energy and budgets where the consumers are – Amazon – to which Google Shopping pales in comparison to the number of sales that pass through Amazon’s marketplace.
Yet with no fees, it's a no brainer to set up your product listings on google shopping to help drive traffic to your site!