It’s no secret that retail has faced a plethora of challenges over recent years. This is something that has, despite government measures, continued to ramp up throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. It is likely to continue well into the late part of 2020 and beyond as consumers change their shopping habits and bricks and mortar shops struggle to adapt to the raft of new guidelines that are likely to be implemented.
With this in mind online retail for existing retail enterprises and new start-ups will be likely to focus a whole lot more on their websites and other online web stores and listings than they would have done even in online-dominating pre-Covid times.
Online commerce has become a raft in a stormy sea for many small, medium, and large retail enterprises across the world. This is true irrespective of sector, applying to not only food and other essentials but also home goods, records, toys, clothing, and DIY and garden materials.
Fortunately for the many businesses dealing with this dramatic shift Google has announced a reversion to free shopping listings. This was unveiled in the US in April 2020 and is going to be phased in across the rest of the world during the rest of the year.
This will manifest in Google’s shopping tab being made up mostly of free listings, providing retailers with a more level and comprehensive playing field to deal connect with potential customers, irrespective of their advertising budget.
“With hundreds of millions of shopping searches on Google each day, we know that many retailers have the items people need in stock and ready to ship but are less discoverable online”, Bill Ready, President of Commerce, Google stated. According to Google, this is a development that has been long on the cards and has only been accelerated as a result of the unprecedented global pandemic.
Paid listings will, of course, continue to have a place in the advertising slots, but a large majority of items will, when these changes go through, be shown based on their relevance to the search, not according to their status (paid or free).
Lojix, a digital marketing agency based in Barnsley, explains “this is a step that makes total sense, not only in the light of the pandemic but also in the context of a consistent increase in the percentage of pre-purchase searches consumers make on Google itself.”
Google is the starting point for the vast majority of product searches and so even if it then, in a percentage of cases, leads to a diversion to sites like Amazon, eBay or other major retailers and in some cases more specialized independent retailers, Google will see this as a way to win out via the sheer scale of searches and so even if only a small percentage of consumers use the free listings, it will be a big victory.
As to when are these changes likely to be rolled out in the UK, the realistic scenario will involve the integration of free shopping listings on google around Q4, seeing as Google usually don’t make any major changes around Black Friday and Christmas.
A Few Key Things To Remember
Google Shopping Tab Only
It is incredibly important to bear in mind that all of this will only apply (at the moment) to users who click on the ‘shopping’ tab on Google, not just in the bog standard search box. As for what happens in the standard Google search box, it will continue to give precedence to paid advertising.
The recently rolled out PayPal integration will make it a much smoother process for consumers and retailers alike. Retailers themselves are able to link their accounts to PayPal, enabling a much quicker transaction for verified sellers. Making the whole process quicker, smoother and easier will only serve to open up more opportunities for advertisers.
How Does Google Really Win Here?
Alongside the increase in the domination of the online shopping domain, this shift is also very likely to lead to an increase in competition for paid advertising as businesses look to take full advantage of the more comprehensive shopping experience on Google.
They will also, of course, not have failed to notice the dramatic increase in profits online giants Amazon have enjoyed since the start of the pandemic and will want to do everything in their power to get a bigger slice of that particular pie.
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