Search engine giant Google is to reintroduce free product listings under its Shopping tab, giving online retailers an effective and affordable way to find new customers.
The move is already underway in the US, and will be heading to the UK by the end of the year.
Google has offered product listings for free before. The service was originally known as Froogle, but in 2012 it made the switch to only accepting paid-for adverts. The result was that the volume of products it linked to dramatically declined, which reduced its popularity with shoppers. Users instead headed to sites such as Amazon, which offers a much wider array of goods.
However, Google now wants that traffic back, and wants to reclaim its position as the de facto starting point for product searches. And that’s great news for online retailers.
Firstly, competition between rival sites will likely create more favourable situations for its target customers. So when Google takes on Amazon, it’s going to sweeten the deal for you, the user.
Second, while Amazon is a great platform for attracting new business, it has drawbacks, too. When you’re buying through its platform, it’s not only taking a percentage of your profits, it’s also monitoring your data regarding what sells and what doesn’t. And when it identifies profitable markets, it sets itself up as your competition. Just look at how many items are available through the Amazon Basics brand to give you an idea.
Google, on the other hand, just wants your traffic and advertising money. No matter how great your product, it’s highly unlikely it’ll start selling its own version. Better still, Google will drive traffic to your own site, where you’ll have full control over things like the listings, how the site looks, the delivery options and what happens to your customer data.
This latest move by Google is great news for all online retailers, and start-ups and those with limited marketing budgets in particular, offering a low-cost way to drive traffic and sales.
What you can do
Make use of all the channels
As we have written before, to be a success in business you have to use the channels your potential customers love. There are a lot of active social media apps and a variety of listings sites, but whenever you choose not to use any particular one, you miss out on that opportunity to communicate with your audience. And as we saw when Instagram stopped working for several hours, relying too much on any one platform can leave you vulnerable to things outside of your control.
Always build your brand
Amazon is an effective tool for reaching new customers, but unless you communicate effectively with them they’ll never see you as anything besides a part of Amazon. What you must do is collect email addresses and keep up regular communication with offers, news and updates. Include branded items when you mail out products that encourage shoppers to follow your social media channels and visit your site. Once you’ve made the sale through Amazon, or any other channel, you should then work to make follow-up sales through your own website.
Monitor Google shopping
Free Google Shopping listings may not have made it to the UK yet, but they will soon. So now is a great time to keep an eye on how it plays out in the US. Businesses there will have the chance to experiment, learn and refine to find the most effective methods of using it. When this information is posted online in blogs and tutorials, you’ll be fully informed and well-equipped to start your own campaign as soon as the free listings go live.