Over the last few weeks, Google has been making changes in its platform to better enable and democratize retailers to feature their products. These updates include the introduction of free retail listings within Google Search and the removal of commission fees for sellers using Buy on Google. Let’s dive into what these updates mean for Google merchants.
Free Retail Listings Expanding into Google Search
In the spring, Google opened up organic listings on the shopping tab, and now Google is expanding these organic listings into Google Search. This update gives shoppers the ability to discover all of the quality product choices available to them when searching on Google. With a significant shift to online shopping, merchants can now connect with their customers in a digital space and make it easier for shoppers to discover them.
In the U.S., Google has seen promising results among merchants that use free listings in the Google Shopping Tab. The broader range of options that these listings offer to consumers increased user engagement, growing both impressions and clicks. With free listings now becoming available in Google Search, advertisers can reach even more customers who are searching locally or nationwide.
Where will these free listings show in the Search Results?
The product knowledge graph panel will house these organic listings, and shopping ads will continue displaying at the top of the search results page.
This update is initially launching on mobile, but Google plans to expand the efforts to desktop. Google is continuing to democratize their space to show both organic and paid listings for retailers, intending overall traffic for retailers to increase.
Buy on Google is Now Open & Commission Free
Google is removing the commission fee for retailers using Buy on Google to make selling on the platform simpler. Google is also offering payment through 3rd-party providers PayPal and Shopify, as well as the option to filter for small businesses. These changes allow Google to better connect customers to retailers, providing flexibility in where they can shop and how they can make their purchases – whether that is on Google or a retailer’s website.
Keeping Up with Amazon
Google has been losing product search volume to Amazon over the last several years to the point where 54%+ product searches now start on Amazon. This cuts into Google's ability to generate ad dollars, their primary source of revenue. With the eCommerce acceleration driven by COVID, the stakes are even greater for Google – and more immediate. The increasingly competitive landscape prompted them to make a few changes recently that are all aimed directly at Amazon:
- Allowing sellers to list their products for free on GMC (encouraging a richer marketplace and more SMBs to participate)
- Allowing free product listings on the Google Shopping tab (achieving the same goals as free product listings, as well as a more diverse shopping experience for Google users)
- Extending the free product listings to Google Search results (coming this summer in the form of knowledge panel results)
- Eliminating the commission fees for buying on Google and supporting two new payment and inventory providers to join, as previously explained (Shopify and PayPal)
All of the above tactics are intended to peel more sellers and shoppers away from Amazon back to Google. This is good news for SMBs and consumers. Larger retailers may view these shifts as a mixed bag: additional traffic for free, yet with greater competition, and potentially indifference about the checkout capabilities. Many larger retailers would prefer to have a customer checkout through their website, which should be optimized and allow for stronger merchandising and larger basket size. Retailers large and small have a vested interest in Google's success in order to maintain a strong alternative to Amazon, even if only to slow their growth. Amazon will only continue to make it more challenging for retailers to remain competitive, and these changes by Google provide a modicum of support.
In all, these updates signify a push by Google to become more competitive in the already-crowded eCommerce space, with major competitors like Amazon in the game. Their key moves have been introducing more filtering options, offering easier paths to convert, and enticing retailers to join the program. These improvements will help Google expand its shopping capabilities and collect more product conversion data to enhance its paid shopping efforts.
If you have any questions about Google’s recent updates or how to get started with selling your brand’s products through Google, please reach out to the Adlucent team for guidance to help you better reach your customers.