If you’re an avid Adlucent blog reader (who are we kidding, we know you all are) you may have read our post about a week ago on the rapid emergence of Smart Speakers and how consumers are beginning to leverage these devices for shopping. Consider this post to be "part two," as we are going to take it a step further and explore Google’s growing role in voice and how it will impact your brand.
While the Smart Speaker category was once dominated by Amazon, Google has gained strides quickly with their launch of the Google Home in mid 2016 and the announcement of Google Shopping Actions in early 2018. If Google’s gigantic footprint in digital search is any indicator, retailers should expect the behemoth to have a big presence in voice search, too. And that’s why it’s going to be so important for your brand to participate in Google Shopping Actions.
The Beginning of Google Shopping Actions
We can’t fully understand Google Shopping Actions without grasping how it has evolved from Google Express. When it first launched in 2013, Google Express’ original intent was an effort to compete with Amazon’s delivery services by integrating with retailer’s brick and mortar stores, fulfilling directly from the store, and providing same-day or next-day delivery through last-mile logistics.
But we suspect that Google didn't achieve the adoption rate they were hoping for. So to increase their footprint, two big recent partnerships came to light. First, Walmart announced that all of their products could be found on Google Express, bringing 12 million products to the Google platform. This announcement gave Walmart an opportunity to compete with Alexa in the voice wars. A key component of this partnership is that Walmart will share all transaction history with Google so Google Home can leverage that data to personalize voice search results. Secondly, Target also created a similar partnership with Google—giving the search giant a running start in the Smart Speaker game.
This takes us to February 2018 where Google rolled out Shopping Actions, a program designed to give customers an easy way to shop for products on the Google Assistant and Search with a universal cart, whether they’re on mobile, desktop or even a Google Home device. Leading brands have been chomping at the bit to gain brand visibility on Smart Speakers and Google has now provided a path to do just that. By joining Google’s Shopping Actions program, a brand's products will gain visibility among consumers who voice shop for relevant items using Google Assistant. Consumers who shop via Google Assistant will be able to access their shopping cart across all Google Assistant properties, allowing them to seamlessly checkout with saved payment credentials. This is Google’s solution for the frictionless shopper who shops across devices and expects a unified experience throughout.
Battle To The Top
So now that we understand Google Express’ evolution, let’s dive into how it will impact you. Given the nature of voice search, it's more important than ever for your brand to get to the top suggestion spot. This spot will be awarded to the brand who has partnered with Google in the Shopping Actions program. We also expect that estimated conversion rate to sale (boosted by competitive pricing) will play a role in who, among participating brands, will win the top spot. This means that when a shopper uses Google Assistant to search, Google will likely suggest the participating brand's products above other brands. Google will also suggest items that the shopper may wish to reorder to net more sales for the brand and simplify the order process for the shopper. This creates some obvious benefits for participating brands. In fact, a pre/post study conducted by Google and MasterCard showed that shoppers spent more money with retailers participating in Google Shopping Actions (vs. non-participating retailers) in the four months the study was live—boosting AOV (Average Order Value) for those brands. Google claims that basket size for participating retailers grew an average of 30%. Lastly, retailers participating in Shopping Actions will pay only when a sale actually takes place—minimizing risk and making the conversion cost optimal, too.
As a performance-driven digital marketing agency, our job has been to predict future CVR so we can accurately set bids in real-time for our clients. To succeed in Google Shopping Actions, we believe the most important variables will be price (the lowest possible) and the availability of free and fast shipping.
Thinking about participating in Google Shopping Actions? Take a look at our latest white paper, Smart Speakers: Helping Brands Find Their Voice, for three steps you can follow to ensure your brand makes it into Google’s voice Buy Box.