We’re in the age of instant gratification. Almost everything we could possibly need is just a click away. Smartphones are actually changing the way we research products and make purchase decisions. In the last year alone, there has been a 115% increase in shopping searches coming from smartphones (Google internal data). And these searches are becoming more focused. We want to know which product is the best, who has it for the lowest price, and where it can be purchased nearby.
So how do you give shoppers what they need with a limited screen size, fewer search results, and a difficult transaction process? Google is hoping to make headway in this area with their rollout of new changes that help shoppers find and buy what they’re looking for faster.
1. Product research
Eighty-one percent of consumers start the shopping process online, and thanks to the accessibility of mobile devices, they are searching for products everywhere they go. Google recently shared that one in five people interact with the shopping ads that appear in search results. Until recently, the biggest downside to these ads is their limited size. Retailers haven’t been able to include much information to differentiate themselves from other retailers who carry the same, or similar products. Google has introduced a new feature that, when swiped, allows a product ad to grow in size and reveal more information. This includes ratings and reviews data as well as information on the availability of inventory at a nearby store.
Google has also noticed more conversational searches. For example, “best digital camera,” “Bose Soundlink reviews,” and “Canon ES Rebel resolution.” When shoppers use this type of language, they will now receive shopping results that are tailored to their search. A person who is looking for the best product will see ads for products with high authority or ratings. A person looking for product reviews will see the product’s rating and a snapshot of useful reviews. Those who want specific information will now have access to it through a new product attribute card.
For some ideas on how to analyze your best traffic and recommendations for retailers, read our previous blog here.
2. Finding local inventory
While the majority of consumers start the research process online, 95% still convert in a storefront. Since 2011, “near me” searches have increased 34X (Google data) as shoppers look for products they can purchase in person. Google is responding to this trend by prioritizing Local Inventory Ads (LIAs) over Product Listing Ads (PLAs) in these situations, enabling searchers to see if there’s inventory available in a nearby store.
Retailers can also take advantage of the Google Now in-store card that displays information such as sales, closing hours, and inventory data when a shopper is nearby. If the shopper selects “Search store inventory,” a Google-hosted, retailer-branded local storefront will be displayed.
Retailers hoping to turn a browser into a buyer can utilize the Google Now price drop card. This new ad type highlights significant price reductions on products a shopper has previously browsed and serves as an incentive for the shopper to purchase right then and there.
3. Transacting immediately
Thanks to a difficult checkout process, conversion rates on desktops are 2X more than mobile (Google data). To combat this, Google is introducing a few new features to get shoppers past the goal line. The first is an ad that directs shoppers to a retailer’s app. We know that apps fare much better than mobile optimized websites so this is their first attempt to help drive this traffic.
The second is Google Purchases, or what had been previously dubbed the Google Buy button. When a consumer clicks on an ad, he/she can convert on a Google hosted product page. While Google facilitates the checkout, the page will be branded by the retailer and consumers will have the option to opt in to receive marketing messages. The Google Purchases solution helps consumers transact with as little friction as possible, which is a huge win for both the consumer and the retailer.
Putting it all together
These are just a few of the solutions that Google is working on to make progress towards closing the mobile commerce gap. As our ability as marketers to implement 1:1 advertising comes closer, we can expect that ads will become more relevant (giving the shopper exactly what they’re looking for), more effective, and the checkout process will become more streamlined so conversions will rise.
We may never see smartphones drive the same volume of sales that a physical store does, but these devices are important to helping us bridge the gap between the virtual and physical worlds. In the end, it’s not about device-specific sales that matter, it’s the experience a customer has with a brand as they move from browser to customer.