How do you compete against a global e-commerce giant like Amazon? That is a question more and more retail businesses are tackling as they move online with Google Shopping.

Global retail e-commerce sales are expected to jump to US$4.9 trillion in 2021, an increase of 276.9 per cent from 2014, according to a recent report by Shopify.

Consumers sheltering in place because of COVID-19 are doing more of their buying online. In July 2020, 5,000 consumers in North America and Europe answered a Selligent Marketing Cloud survey about how they shop. More than one-third (36 per cent) reported they shop online. This was up from 28 per cent before the pandemic.

Amazon’s success since the world went into lockdown is evidence of this trend. It reported a net income of US$5.2 billion for the second quarter of 2020, which is double what it was for the same period in 2019.

So how can you benefit from this shift and help consumers find you online amid the competition? For an increasing number of e-commerce businesses, the answer is Google Shopping.

What is Google Shopping?

Google Shopping is a comparison shopping engine and a one-stop-shop for consumers. It helps them find, discover, view, compare and buy products. It shows up as a tab when consumers use Google to search for products. Retailers, who used to pay to post their products on the tab, can now do it for free.

Google Shopping got its start in 2002 when Google launched Froogle. This was a product listing site with one clear purpose: to make it easier for people to research products. It did this by categorizing product information based on search terms. In 2012, Froogle evolved into Google Shopping and became part of Google AdWords (now known as Google Ads).

What is the difference between Google Shopping and Google Ads? Google Ads relies on keywords. Google Shopping relies on product information provided by retailers. Every Google Shopping ad includes an image, the product title, the price, and the name of the retailer. In some cases, it also includes shipping costs or reviews.

Google Shopping works by showing these ads in Google search results when someone is looking for that exact product. According to a Google survey, 75 per cent of shoppers around the world used one of its products to help them make a purchase in the previous week. A survey of Canadian shoppers revealed 55 per cent of respondents used Google to discover or find a new brand.

Google Shopping’s big reach and big impact make it an important tool for any search engine marketing (SEM) campaign. SEM is a form of online marketing that drives traffic to business websites by helping them show up in Google searches. Paid advertising is the main way to get noticed because your ad will appear on the first page of search results. Google Ads is the world’s best known and used paid search tool.

How Google Shopping helps consumers

When shoppers search for products, Google shows relevant Google Shopping ads. When a user clicks on a product link, they are sent to the retailer’s site to make the purchase. Google does not sell products directly. It does offer recommendations based on a user’s search history.

While shopping online is more convenient than going to physical stores, it’s still a lot of work. That’s because of the overwhelming number of products and choices. Google Shopping puts Google’s search expertise to work for shoppers. It makes it easier to find the best deals by allowing users to sort or filter by price, product category and brand.

How Google Shopping benefits retailers

More product visibility: Shoppers are researching online more than ever. Appearing in their search results increases traffic to your website. Google Ads, including Google Shopping ads with thumbnail photos, appear at the top of the page before organic ads and pay-per-click ads. As shoppers refine their search, Google Shopping can help drive them to your product.

Strong ROI: Google Shopping ads feature the information potential customers want. By the time they click on your ad and go to your website, they’re ready to buy. The result: Google Shopping ads have 30 per cent higher conversion rates than text ads and they cost less. (WordStream)

Increased profitability: Retailers are shifting their digital advertising budgets from search ads to Google Shopping ads, according to research by global marketing firm Merkle. Google Shopping now accounts for 60 per cent of retailers’ Google search ad clicks. When you take out advertiser brand keywords, this jumps to 90 per cent.

Why is this shift happening? Shopping ads are more profitable than search ads. Retailers earn 12 per cent more revenue per click with Google Shopping ads.

As of this year, listing on the Google Shopping tab is free.

“For retailers, this change means free exposure to millions of people who come to Google every day for their shopping needs,” Bill Ready, Google’s president of commerce, said when he made the announcement. “For shoppers, it means more products from more stores, discoverable through the Google Shopping tab. For advertisers, this means paid campaigns can now be augmented with free listings.”

What are you waiting for?

For an up-close look at how Postmedia Solutions uses Google Shopping to grow sales, click here.