On April 21st, Google announced that it will be free for merchants in the United States to list products on Google Shopping from the week starting April 27th, with the change expected to come out to everyone else in the world before the end of the year.
The move was framed as a measure to simply help stores that are struggling during the coronavirus pandemic to reconnect with customers online. Interestingly, Google implied that this change had been already in the works but was indeed brought forward as a consequence of the crisis, writing that it was advancing its plans to make it free for merchants to sell on Google.
On top of this, Google announced a new partnership with PayPal that allows merchants to link their accounts and speed up the on-boarding procedure, an important step for businesses that can’t afford to waste any moment in getting additional sources of revenue installed and operating.
Taken together, what will these changes mean for businesses within the present crisis and additional into the long term? And just how will they affect search marketers while the wider search landscape? We considered some professionals to get their thoughts.
This will be Offering Google a boost with the product search race
This announcement means Google has realized that it’s losing out in the race to become the top destination for product search where customers go to research products and make online purchases. And while it’s placing the news that it’s making its Google Shopping product listings free to help smaller stores caught up with the COVID-19 crisis, Google additionally needs to get one eye on the likely eCommerce boom that’s going to happen as locked down customers are required to make purchases online rather than planning to go to physical stores. In the long run, Google Shopping has become a pretty product that is a light-weight engine and eCommerce marketplace. Right now, Amazon and eBay are the principal players in this space. It’s not clear if Google Shopping is even number three in the United States, where it’s also competing with the likes of Walmart and niche marketplaces such as Etsy for product search traffic.
In most of its other key areas such as general web search, video search, maps, and local search, Google continues to be number one. And that’s a position that is nice to maintain before starting to monetize a service. With Google Shopping I think it’s presenting a product that is free in an attempt to retain and increase its market share. Many other services from Google are free; it’s something the business often does to capture the share of the market.
I also believe the existing dominance that Amazon has in the markets is an important factor.
Level the playing field for small businesses
This will instantly have the most effective effect on small and perhaps medium-sized businesses as it will begin to and effortlessly put them on an almost level playing field with larger players in ways that would before perhaps not have been possible.
Be prepared for your competitors. If you’re doing the above well, so are they! You have to be ready concerning their activity as it will impact your business prospects.