Google Shopping gets an upgrade

Source: Google blog
Oct 11, 2019

A redesigned Google Shopping platform went live in the U.S. last week with upgrades to some existing features as well as the introduction of new ones, such as price tracking and style inspiration. 

The experience first debuted in France earlier this year.

Among the features: 

  • Personalization: The updated homepage is personalized so individuals see relevant product suggestions based on their shopping and browsing histories, as well as sections that help them reorder common items.
  • Style inspiration: Google Lens already enables consumers to find similar item suggestions for apparel and home décor. With a new feature, “style ideas,” users take a screenshot and use Lens in Google Photos to see how other people have styled similar looks. The tool works similarly to Pinterest’s “Shop the Look” Pins.
  • Price tracking: Consumers can “price track” certain items and receive a notification to their phone when prices drops. Notifications through email will soon be added.
  • Localization: Items can be filtered to nearby stores should the consumer want to see and touch an item or pick up the product immediately. The feature can also display in-stock information at local stores. (Google Express, Google’s local delivery service, was absorbed into Google Shopping earlier this year.)
  • Buy directly on Google with guarantee: Through Google Shopping Actions, a cost-per-action program for retailers, shoppers can buy certain items directly on Google using payment information stored in their Google accounts. Google’s customer service team can handle returns and refunds on such purposes and the service offers a “guarantee” to provide confidence to shop unfamiliar stores. A shopping cart icon on product images indicates the item can be bought directly on Google.
  • Carbon offsets: Carbon emissions from delivery will be offset for any item bought on Google.

Numerous studies have found that has surpassed Google in recent years as the go-to platform for product search, although research from Episerver earlier this year found more consumers heading to Google over Amazon for inspiration. More premium fashion brands are available on Google than Amazon. A more dynamic shopping experience may also help Google better compete against Amazon for advertising dollars.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Which of the features on the upgraded Google Shopping platform do you think will be most appealing to consumers? What about for retailers? Where do you see Google having an advantage over Amazon in the shopping journey?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"At first blush price tracking seems to be the most wide-appealing consumer feature which Google will be able to do a lot with as people identify future purchase intention."
"The feature that will be most appealing to retailers will be the benefit of greater visibility in the digital purchase journey for consumers."
"Google is not in the same league as either Walmart or Amazon."

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14 Comments on "Google Shopping gets an upgrade"

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Jeff Sward

Looks like Google is putting together a package where the answer is “all of the above.” Sometimes a price change will be most important. Sometimes local availability will be most important. Sometimes suggested alternatives will be most helpful. Taken together they add up to a very helpful shopping partner. So the attributes are there. Now it’s a function of whether Amazon or Google can make the actual click/navigate/delivery experience the most fluid.

Carol Spieckerman

If Google is able to accomplish accurate personalization, that would be a real accomplishment. How annoying is it when an item chases you around the Internet, begging to be purchased…again? Post-purchase promotions happen to me on a regular basis and demonstrate an inability to connect the path-to-purchase dots.

David Naumann
David Naumann
Marketing Strategy Lead - Retail, Travel & Distribution, Verizon
1 year 8 months ago

The price tracking feature is the most appealing to me. There are other independent services that scan the Internet for lower prices, but I am not sure of many that continue scanning for days/weeks other than airline websites.

With massive amounts of search data, Google could develop an advantage over Amazon on product recommendations. However, today, Amazon is still by far the leader in owning where consumers start product search.

Georganne Bender

I have never purchased anything via the Google shopping platform, so I clicked around it before writing this. It’s confusing because items are listed by retailer rather than by item – I saw the same shampoo listed in five different places. It does get easier once you click on an item but it takes work to get there. I hope they work on that.

All the new features are cool. Personally, I like “Style inspiration” that allows users to easily find similar items and style similar looks. Also I like that consumers are shown where they can find the items at stores nearby so they can grab them immediately. I know local retailers will like that feature, too.

Evan Snively
Evan Snively
Loyalty Strategist, Chapman & Co. Leadership Institute
1 year 8 months ago

At first blush price tracking seems to be the most wide-appealing consumer feature which Google will be able to do a lot with as people identify future purchase intention. The Episerver insight about Google still holding the edge in the “inspiration” department is the real opportunity. Amazon has a death grip on repeat commodities, but there is still great opportunity for Google to win the aspirational purchase war. Short of buying and integrating Pinterest – placing emphasis on this functionality of their brand experience is smart business.

Brandon Rael

Personalization has become the Holy Grail in retail. Google Shopping is a prime example of what Google can potentially do with all the valuable search insights, as they are now driving personalized, localized and inspiring digital experiences. The most appealing part of this is the trust and confidence that consumers already have with the Google platform. Google has extended its reach well beyond search, where they are the masters, and now have integrated everything from maps, email, productivity tools etc. Digital commerce is now a natural extension of the overall Google experience.

The clear advantage Google could potentially have over Amazon is that they “know” their customers because we interact so often on that platform. We willingly share all of our personal information and search habits with Google, because of the trust we have in the company. In turn, users have a consistent experience across Google’s apps via an integrated single sign-on. I believe this is only the beginning and it will only get more interesting as their commerce offering matures.

Bethany Allee

Price tracking combined with localization appeals to how consumers currently make purchases – it’s a healthy bridge between old school and new school retail. When it comes down to it, Google must make the process as friction-less as Amazon to stand a chance of competing. I’m not sure this new package does that. In terms of retailers, there’s an interesting opportunity for specialty retailers on Google. When I say specialty, what I mean is anyone who’s willing to focus their marketing efforts on specific items vs. broader brand and foot traffic building. Retailers who invest in item-specific sales efforts stand a better change of standing out (i.e., being at the top of the search) and succeeding in the Google model.

Kai Clarke

Google is offering a solution to a problem that is already being addressed (by others — easily) with no advantage. Just being another online marketplace doesn’t give Google an advantage over Amazon or Walmart. I don’t see over 100 distribution warehouses or thousands of specialized delivery vehicles offered through Google.

Google is not in the same league as either Walmart or Amazon.

Ken Morris

There are some great features here that should be viewed through a product category lens. For some items like furniture, shoes, automobiles and some electronics the localization feature is a perfect complement for comfort, fit and/or utility. For commodity items, price tracking is very valuable. For some (really everyone) the carbon offset is important. Personalization helps to make the experience unique, saves time and if done right can give Google a potential advantage by offering a world of choice.

Shep Hyken

Who ever thought Amazon would go head-to-head in the online shopping space? Google’s notifications of price drops and localization technology seems like a good place to begin to differentiate. Really, all of the features Google is offering have appeal. Is this a VHS vs. Betamax war? Whatever it is, it will be interesting – and good for consumers.

Ken Wyker
The advantage that Google has vs. Amazon is that Google is known for providing free services that make everything easier and/or less expensive. Customers understand that their use of Google for search, email, etc., helps Google make tons of money through advertising, but we as customers aren’t the ones paying. We are simply getting a free service. Amazon, on the other hand, is the world’s largest online retailer and for most customers, they are the default go-to for online shopping or product evaluation. They make shopping easy and have great delivery options, but customers also know that Amazon makes money when we buy, so their features and functionality are all designed to get us to buy through the Amazon ecosystem. I think the upgraded Google Shopping is a threat to Amazon because it has the potential to cast what they do in a different light and get customers to see them differently. Think of the contrasts that Google is creating vs Amazon. Shop at any store, even if Google will not get a commission; Shop… Read more »
Brian Cluster

Providing consumers an improved price alert solution will be the number one feature for Google for consumers. It takes out the laborious hassle of checking pricing on a large planned purchase over a longer period of time. This will be great for larger appliances, more expensive electronics or gift purchases.

The feature that will be most appealing to retailers will be the benefit of greater visibility in the digital purchase journey for consumers. Consumers may be more inclined to stop by a local retailer if they know that product is available and only a few minutes away vs. going with Amazon and waiting for a one-day or two-day delivery.

Cate Trotter

There’s a really strong mix of features here which demonstrates that Google wants to stay in the game when it comes to being a first port for shopping and inspiration. I think the price tracking feature is something that customers will be keen on.

The thing about Amazon is that it’s not always the cheapest option out there and for those who are more price conscious this could be a big benefit.

I also like the localisation element as it makes complete sense for offline retailers to highlight that you could have the product in your hands in a matter of minutes (rather than waiting for delivery). It will be interesting to see how deep the personalisation really goes. I question whether customers will want to commit to putting in time to teach it about their tastes (e.g. by flagging suggestions that they like or don’t like, etc.) so it may be that its suggestions won’t be as good as they could be.

Dan Frechtling

Google succeeds by simply being an alternative to Amazon that will appeal to shoppers who don’t visit Walmart. But beyond that, Google can delight with a refreshingly clean UI.

I compared a search for Asics men’s running shoes on both Google and Amazon and was impressed with the clarity of presentation. Google provided a simple list of what I was looking for while Amazon was cluttered with ads. Amazon’s first results were competitive offers for Reebok–not at all what I was looking for. Surprisingly, Google listed more choices (500+) than Amazon (431).

Google’s filter feature was remarkably superior as well, allowing me to select by size, width, price, material, and more.

While Amazon still wins on speed of delivery and a loyal Prime user base. I’m glad to see Google’s upgrades to Shopping compare surprisingly well to the industry standard.

"At first blush price tracking seems to be the most wide-appealing consumer feature which Google will be able to do a lot with as people identify future purchase intention."
"The feature that will be most appealing to retailers will be the benefit of greater visibility in the digital purchase journey for consumers."
"Google is not in the same league as either Walmart or Amazon."

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