Is Google making another e-commerce breakthrough?

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A report from Bloomberg suggests that Google is set to launch another run at retail giant Amazon with a renewed determination to conquer e-commerce.

E-commerce is a “division [Google] tried and failed to figure it out many times before,” the report read.

If Google is getting serious about e-commerce again, why would it work any differently this time around?

For one, there’s a new VP in charge since the last time Google made a big push into e-commerce.

Prabhakar Raghavan, Google’s senior vice president who oversees search, maps and ads, gave everyone a taste of his vision at this year’s Google I/O conference.

Raghavan’s influence on Google’s retail strategy dates back to his promotion in 2020, around the time Google got rid of the fees it charged for online purchases.

Bloomberg describes Raghavan’s vision as “anti-Amazon”. Retailers have to pay Amazon to use its website as a storefront, while Google recently started allowing businesses to run shopping ads for free.

Free shopping lists seem like an effective way for businesses to introduce themselves to customers, but are customers conditioned to use Google as a place to purchase products?

In this article, we will see if Google can realistically compete with Amazon in the retail space. Next, we’ll discuss what this means for businesses and what they can do to prepare for an e-commerce push from Google.

Google’s new e-commerce strategy shows promise

There are early signs that Google’s new approach to e-commerce is working.

Google recently revealed in a revenue report that online advertising contributed to a 43% increase in search revenue in 2021.

Advertisers are ready to embrace the direction Google is heading in, but what about customers?

Google reported last year that more than a billion people shop on its properties every day.

Research from Morgan Stanley, published in the fall of 2021, finds consumers used Google and YouTube to research products and shop for prices more often than they used Amazon, EBay or Walmart.

Even Amazon’s most dedicated shoppers, Prime subscribers, search for products on Google more often.

In April, Morgan Stanley reported that 59% of survey respondents who are Amazon Prime members said they started searching for products on Google. This number is up from 50% last fall.

However, industry insiders tell Bloomberg that Google’s approach to e-commerce isn’t attracting significant numbers of new buyers.

Google has succeeded in getting buy-in from advertisers and retailers, now it needs to find a way to turn searchers into buyers.

Preparing for Google’s e-commerce push

There are two things retailers can do now to position themselves for success as Google brings its e-commerce vision to life.

The first is to upload your product feed to Google Merchant Center. You can learn all about how to do this in this beginner’s guide to shopping ads.

There is no upfront cost to use Google Merchant Center, you only pay if you decide to run premium shopping ads.

This brings us to the next recommendation, which is to take advantage of free product listings in Google.

With a product feed imported to Google via Merchant Center, you will be able to display free shopping lists.

The main difference between paid and free shopping lists is that one takes precedence over the other. As far as appearance and functionality go, these are identical offerings.

In addition to being listed in the Shopping tab, your free ads may show up in search results.

Finally, you can stay prepared by paying close attention to the latest updates from Google. I suspect we’ll see innovative efforts from Google throughout the year to attract more buyers.


Source: Bloomberg

Featured image: CasamiroPT/Shutterstock

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