Richard Conway takes a close look at the ins and outs of Google Shopping and why it can provide a point of difference for those peddling products.
Nearly five years after its launch into other markets, Google Shopping finally landed in New Zealand earlier this year. Although our neighbours across the ditch have had Google Shopping since 2013, following a 2012 US launch, the advertising service only opened for business in this country in February.
Essentially retailers can pay Google to have their products featured, as it serves up pictures and prices of products on its homepage during user searches. As one of the trialling agencies, Pure SEO got an early look at how it would affect the online landscape – and we’ve been able to see how these predictions have played out since.
It has, indeed, been great news for brands that are price-competitive and has put pressure on price comparison sites, as Google now serves that data up in its core search results.
In fact, because there are still only a small number of retailers using Google Shopping in New Zealand the ROI has been phenomenal for many of the Pure SEO clients.
Last week, one client generated $2,000 of revenue from just $0.20 of ad spend.
Although Google Shopping is largely an advertising innovation, it was (correctly) predicted that it would also have potential ramifications for retailers – after all, these things most certainly don’t take place in isolation.
Now that it’s been in place in New Zealand for some time, and as we gear up for the holiday retail season, it’s time to take a closer look at Google Shopping.
As Google assert in their 2017 ‘Reaching the Non-line Shopper This Holiday’ report, “shoppers today are more informed, purposeful, and better prepared than ever before”.
This is hardly surprising in our information age, and you’ll likely know from your own experience surrounding key purchases. We do our research, we decide that we want a particular brand, and often a specific product – and then it’s just about finding it at the best price.
As Google goes on to detail in their report, there are several key aspects or touchpoints, sometimes referred to as ‘moments of truth’ that influence consumer choices. All of these provide an opportunity for learnings and improvement:
1. Discoverability drives loyalty.
The reality is that we want our immediate needs to be met quickly and, whether we already know the brand we’re looking for, or are conducting a broad search, we tend to turn first and foremost to Google. In fact, 70 percent of people start with Google when using retail sites and apps.
Not only are Google Shopping ads cheaper, in many cases, than paid text ads that come up at the top of searches, they also contain an image. Research has shown that visual content is interpreted much more quickly in a consumer’s brain than text and there are, of course, certain categories (like clothing and footwear) where the majority of us are looking for images specifically.
2. Friction means failure.
The next aspect that Google’s report outlines is this stark reality: As consumers, we have so many options, so if something is hard, or doesn’t work as seamlessly (or fast) as we expect, we move on. As already mentioned above, we want what we want quickly – especially when we’re out and about. Mobile pages that load one second faster achieve up to a 27 percent increase in conversion rates and 53 percent of users leave a site if it takes more than three seconds to load.
We’re not only shopping on mobile devices, but the fact that at least some of the journey takes place there is significant. Foot traffic inside bricks and mortar stores has decreased by 60 percent in the past five years, but when shoppers do go in-store, especially when they’ve clicked on a retailer’s ad beforehand, they’re 25 percent more likely to buy something and tend to spend up to ten percent more on average.
Whether we’re quickly comparing prices, or seeing what other options are available, online search (on mobile devices) factors into our shopping experience alongside traditional stores. Consumers are letting their fingers do the walking first; 81 percent of shoppers check whether a product is in stock before heading to buy it in-store and local searches on mobile are growing 50 percent faster than mobile searches overall. Google Shopping ads allow you to be seen across devices and, therefore, factor in to a consumer’s consideration set.
3. Mass messages are meaningless.
We’ve long known this to be the case and that relevance and personalisation trump reach for the sake of reach. Google Shopping has come to the party here too, providing the ability to customise users’ shopping experiences with their ‘Audiences’ functionality. Not only can you re-engage high value audiences through remarketing, you can target customers that you know and reach users that are similar to your best customers.
The benefits of this translate directly into sales too. According to Google, 91 percent of smartphone users purchased or plan to purchase something after seeing an ad that they described as relevant. Think of your own preferences here also; 49 percent of us like our apps, or the sites we have visited, to recommend brands or products based on what we’ve previously been looking at and buying. It’s all part of that seamless and easy shopping experience that we crave.
Getting with the times
In business, the old adage of ‘adapt or die’ is becoming increasingly relevant with the emergence of market disruptors and the ways that technology is changing consumer behaviour. This is especially the case in the world of retail. Many experts assert that Google Shopping is a response to the likes of Amazon, which has recently penetrated the Australian market and is more likely now than ever to extend its reach into New Zealand.
It will remain to be seen what impact the eventual arrival of Amazon has for Kiwi businesses, but there’s no doubt that the way retailers best reach customers is already evolving. As the biggest season in retail is upon us, paid search continues to be an important tool for businesses, and Google Shopping is providing a point of difference for those peddling products.
Interested in finding out more about Google Shopping? Drop me an email to [email protected] and I will be happy to help out.