Over the past 5 years, we have witnessed the shift to increasingly online-only shopping, particularly during the last year or so. Groceries, daily-use items and electronics alike – people are buying almost everything from the comfort of their homes, even brand new homes and cars. Google data reflects just that.
In fact, in Q4 of 2020, Google reported that the YoY growth rate in retail searches was more than three times the rate compared to Q4 in 2019. In these unprecedented times, people are using Google as a primary shopping point to meet a variety of needs, billions of times per day across the entire world.
Google has been working toward an omni-channel experience for years, but the pandemic is proof that consumer needs and expectations can change drastically in a flash.
Curb side pickup searches, for example, spiked by 3,000% YoY at the start of the pandemic. Websites are now joining forces with storefronts. People are even signing in to YouTube to decide what to buy and where to buy it from – 70% of shoppers in a recent survey said that they bought something from a specific brand because they found it on YouTube.
Marketers need to adjust to the new normal and take advantage of these shifting consumer behaviours. There’s a lot more choice now because shoppers want more options than ever. Following the pandemic, this surge in e-commerce presents golden opportunities to marketers and business owners.
However, businesses are still finding it difficult to connect with their ideal customers due to the present challenges of choice – or too many choices, rather. The key to success lies in Google – a prime connection between you and your ever-changing and evolving consumer base.
You see, Google understands that consumers don’t want to be overwhelmed by too many choices and prefer to buy exactly what they’re looking for, often from the brands they know and love. That’s why the search giant is building towards an open ecosystem, where every kind of merchant can succeed – be it a global retailer or a mom-and-pop shop around the corner.
Google reported an 80% growth in 2019 in their merchant community – with significant growth in small to medium-sized businesses – as a result, they have partnered with Shopify to make it easier for all merchants to get their products available to be found across Google surfaces. This gives them a chance to meet shoppers in just the perfect moments across their journey, so that they can be better served.
The seamless integration between Google and Shopify should be music to any business’s ears – getting your product inventory live will be simpler than ever, not to mention Shop Pay for Shopify merchants as a payment option across Google surfaces.
As a result, every business will now be on a level field and get an equal opportunity to target the customers they want. Shop Pay, one of the fastest, most secure checkouts on the internet, is available to anyone buying from Shopify merchants on Google. A whopping 137 million orders were placed on Shop Pay in 2019. And this is great news for merchants because its conversion rate is nearly twice that of a typical checkout.
With Shopping campaigns, any business owner can easily get set up and start connecting with their target audience. In fact, ads can potentially deliver up to eight times better ROI and nearly 90% of sales came from new customers for one such small business which launched recently.
Google will help businesses gain the exposure, profits and market share they desire by:
•Crafting and sharing the open ecosystem
•Building the best consumer experience because “the shopper is always right”
•Allowing businesses to focus on what really matters to them – Google will update and distribute insights and trends, while also providing seamless set up processes to help businesses focus on their core goals. Curbside pickup can help consumers easily pickup that “last minute” product that they can’t find anywhere else or easily through conventional means.
With product feeds available on Discovery ads and Video action campaigns, marketers and business owners can now highlight their most relevant products across Google and YouTube.
YoY searches for local businesses have risen by over 80%; searches for “in stock” have risen by over 800% globally. Merchants can now show which products are available in-store, and the option to offer curbside pickup – all within the business profile on Search at no additional cost.
Local inventory ads allow you to highlight products available for immediate store pickup, curb side pickup, and those available for ‘pick up later’. Additionally, curb side pickup and in-store shopping labels are now available through YouTube and Maps ads, allowing businesses to highlight in-store products across more platforms. This allows them to reach customers no matter where they like to shop.
Searches for “discount code” have gone up by 50% since 2019. The New Deals results page on Search and shopping lets shoppers discover the most popular deals to meet their shopping needs throughout the year.
A good 71% of consumers prefer to buy from companies which align with their values – and to help shoppers with that, Google will share information that speaks to each business’s brand identity. Applying labels when, for example, a business identifies as a Black-owned business across Google Search and Maps, Google will expand these attributes on the Shopping tab to women-led and other e-commerce companies owned and led by underrepresented communities – enabling shoppers to buy only from businesses and products they believe in.
To keep all such consumers engaged, Google has launched a way to integrate a merchant loyalty program directly with their platform – allowing businesses to show members their exclusive ‘loyalty’ pricing and benefits, and in the process entice new people to join that loyalty program.
Since retail stores remained closed for a large part of 2020, Google has also launched an augmented reality experience to help people see, for example, what beauty products like lipstick and eyeshadow would look on their individual skin tone – just like they used to while visiting their favourite retail stores.
Google is also building out a new apparel experience to help businesses demonstrate how clothes would virtually fit on a diverse set of people with all kinds of body types, allowing brands to connect with a more vast and diverse range of shoppers. To further heighten the experience for consumers, businesses can now share their story in brand new experiences across Google, making it easier than ever to manage content and products across Google products.
Businesses are now in a much better position to double down their loyalty program. Through a dedicated app, brands can simplify their rewards program and enrich it with personalised benefits – which Google believes represents the latest thinking in retail loyalty – simple, personalised and rooted in a value proposition that’s unique to each individual brand. Currently this is in an early trial but we hope to see it rolled out to some of our customers soon on a beta test basis.
Google recently launched the price competitiveness report to allow marketers to better understand how other businesses are pricing similar products – showing which prices are getting the most clicks, allowing brands to be a lot more competitive.
The search giant understands that a tangible way of measuring value is through conversions or products sold through Google. By projecting real-time signals from what shoppers are clicking on, how competitors are pricing and performing, seasonality fluctuations and more, Google is sparring no expense on making brands more competitive and profitable.
To meet quickly changing consumer needs in the midst of the pandemic, Google now helps businesses understand better how consumer needs are shifting. For example, when ASOS used Search to predict shopping trends – by identifying the fastest rising and falling apparel categories – they observed a shift from occasion wear to casual wear. This immediately signalled that they needed to bring in more sweatshirts and loungewear.
The insights, combined with Google’s machine learning and automation algorithms, helped the business scale their reach to the ideal customers across the globe. They used the Smart Bidding and targeting capability of Video action campaigns and Discovery campaigns to not just reach new customers, but also re-engage with existing customers – specifically targeting them with content which they knew shoppers were already looking for across Google’s surfaces. The brand achieved a double-digit conversion increases as a result.
To make it easier for people to shop businesses on Google, all buying options will now be available together in a cohesive experience, anytime shoppers connect with a product on a Google surface; whether they buy from the business’s e-commerce site, through Google, or visit the business’s actual storefront. Therefore, shoppers will get to see everything a business has to offer in one place to pick the best buying option for them – that is, the one that makes the most sense to them.
Google is in the process of testing this experience on Search and the Shopping tab, and will be bringing them to additional surfaces, such as YouTube and Images, very soon. Consumers often shop different items and add them to carts, with a lot of open tabs that can be hard to keep track of. Consumers can now see their open carts in one place when they open a new tab in Chrome, along with any discounts they may be getting from the retailer.
Furthermore, merchants on WooCommerce, GoDaddy and Square will have access to the very same 10-minute integration to get on Google in order to sell for free – helping even more businesses get started and reach a wider target base.
Google’s end goal is to help shoppers find what they need to, and let businesses thrive – by seamlessly connecting the two concepts through:
•Build an open ecosystem
•Help brands reach shoppers at the right point in their journey
•Build experiences to allow brands to tell their story
•Deliver actionable consumer insights
From shopping to advertising to measurement, everyone at Google is building toward a future with privacy-safe technologies designed to deliver results. Great news for businesses and marketers across the globe as this puts them in a more strategic and forward-facing position to market for today while preparing for tomorrow.
If you are ready to take you eCommerce business to the next stage, get in touch with Orca Online today and find out how we can help you increase your revenue, customer base and overall success of your business.