A revamped Google Shopping experience launched this week, providing new ways to find and compare millions of products from thousands of stores, and to buy them online, in a nearby store or directly on Google, per an announcement shared with sister publication Mobile Marketer. Browsers will be able to complete a purchase on search, Google Images, YouTube and a newly redesigned Google Shopping homepage where users can filter results by brand, read reviews and watch product videos. Google is highlighting the new shopping push at its Google Marketing Live event, May 14-15, and in a blog post.
Google also extended its Showcase Shopping Ads, an ad format that includes lifestyle imagery, to let people shop seamlessly from Google Images, YouTube and its Discover news feed. The company's Shopping campaigns with partners service lets brands use their own media budgets to help promote products in retailers' Shopping campaigns. Beauty company Estée Lauder and an unnamed retailer partner boosted their click share on Google by 70% after running this kind of campaign for a branded designer fragrance, per Google. Smart Shopping campaigns, which use machine learning to optimize campaigns, are being enhanced with the ability to optimize for store visits and by displaying local inventory information.
Google is also merging Google Express with Google Shopping, in some cases. A blue shopping cart will show when this integration is available, meaning users can make a purchase with returns and customer support backed by a Google.
Google’s updated e-commerce features come as the search giant faces a stronger rivalry with Amazon, which has a fast-growing digital ad business and whose e-commerce platform is the first place more than half of online shoppers visit when starting a product search. Third-party merchants have generated more than half of gross merchandise sales on Amazon for several years, expanding the e-commerce company’s product range far beyond its own first-party sales. With Google Shopping, the search giant wants to re-assert its product search capabilities amid growing competition from Amazon in search.
For retailers and brands, Google Shopping combines ads, local information and transactions in one place to help them connect with consumers when they're ready to buy something, the company said. Google users will see a personalized homepage on the Shopping tab, which has filters to narrow products searches by attributes such as price, brand, style, color, features, retailer and nearby availability. Google Shopping will be integrated with Google Search, Google Images and, later this year, its video-sharing site YouTube.
With the enhancements to Smart Shopping campaigns, Google wants help retailers better blend their digital and in-store efforts. The company said it has more than 2 billion store offers mapped to physical store locations globally, and its local inventory ads let merchants highlight their product offerings to shoppers. A consumer study commissioned by Google found that 45% of global shoppers currently buy online and pick up products in-store. Google’s online Merchant Center lets retailers indicate their local inventories through their Shopping ads, and indicate which items are available for in-store pickup.
Google's announcement confirms an earlier report from The Information that said the search company planned to re-brand its Google Express marketplace as Google Shopping, and that it had started testing a feature on its YouTube video platform that will show product prices and recommendations beneath videos and let viewers make a direct purchase. Nike tested the YouTube product recommendations under videos that take viewers to its Google Express marketplace, whose slate of merchants has grown to 1,300 from 50 last year, according to Marketplace Pulse data. Google has told smaller businesses that it doesn't plan to become a retailer, highlighting the tech giant's key competitive difference from Amazon, The Information reported.