Google readies cross-platform 'Shopping Actions' to take on Amazon
- Google is now letting retailers list their products on Google Search in exchange for a cut of transaction revenue, according to a blog post by the company. The Shopping Actions program, is different from payments that retailers make to advertise on Google's platforms.
- Several of Google's existing retail partners will ramp up their efforts to take advantage of Shopping Actions, including Walmart, Home Depot, Costco, Target and Ulta Beauty. Shopping Actions, which is an evolution of Google Express, will surface products on newer platforms like Google Assistant's voice shopping and let users add items to a universal cart that connects all Google platforms — mobile, web browser and voice — for easier ordering. The listings will appear under sponsored shopping results and won't affect organic search results, per the blog post.
- Meanwhile, Pinterest is offering greater access to its similar Shopping Ads feature to "hundreds of businesses" after testing the service with a smaller group of retailers including Ulta, Venus, Overstock, Lowe's, eBay and Wayfair. Pinterest found that 90% of its users make purchase decisions on the platform, and 70% said they use it to find new products, the company announced in a blog post.
Early results from Shopping Actions are promising for retailers, with the first participants seeing the average size of a customer's shopping basket increase by 30%, Google reported. Ulta Beauty's average order value jumped 35% since partnering with Google on this program, while Target found that the number of items in shoppers' Google Express baskets have increased by an average of 20%. Those kind of results may give embattled brick-and-mortar retailers a way to withstand the relentless onslaught of Amazon by making it easier for shoppers to find products and complete purchases across Google platforms.
Retailers sound bullish on the new capalities. In the blog post, Target's Chief Information and Digital Officer Mike McNamara said its customers are reacting positively to being able to use a voice interface to make purchases. The retailer plans to extend the partnership with Google in the months ahead, including enabling shoppers to link their Target.com and Google accounts for a more personalized and intuitive shopping experience. Later this year, Target customers will be able to use the retailer's Redcard when shopping through Google to get 5% off purchase and free shipping.
As Amazon moves in on the digital advertising business dominated by Facebook and Google, it's understandable that Google and Pinterest would want to extend their sales with a move into e-commerce. Amazon makes it easy to search for products and order them for delivery with a single click, but Google and Pinterest have observed that consumers seek product ideas on their platforms.
Google observed that millions of consumers were sending image searches of products, asking where they could find them, Daniel Alegre, Google's president for retail and shopping, told Reuters. Mobile searches asking where to buy products jumped 85% over the past two years, though many of those searches ended with an Amazon purchase.
Google's mission here is to simply keep shoppers away form the e-commerce giant when they begin their produce search. Shopping Actions does this by raising the profile of participating retailers and their products with sponsored shopping results, and by allowing users integrated shopping and ordering across multiple Google platforms. This move may help retailers compete with Amazon by offering better deals and giving consumers personalized recommendations based on their browsing and buying history, especially as Google seeks to make online buying easier by giving shoppers a single shopping cart and instant checkout, a significant feature of Amazon's retail dominance.