With Google Shopping, the Silicon Valley giant is attempting to make it easier for small retailers to get their products in front of potential customers.
You’ve probably seen Google Shopping in action, even if you didn’t realize it. It’s the service that feeds the results window that pops up when you type something like “ovens,” into Google, displaying a variety of ovens for sale, complete with images and prices. Stores represented likely include large retailers like Sears and Home Depot, but Google is now pushing to include more small businesses in these results.
While it can be intimidating for small businesses to take the plunge into search-based advertising and e-commerce, Google Shopping is shaping the future of e-commerce with its image-based simplicity and optimization for mobile.
Join Google for Retail
Google wants small businesses to succeed on its platform.
Sales & Orders in Long Island, N.Y., produces management software for Google Shopping. Sales & Orders Chief Marketing Officer Anthony Capetola works with companies of all sizes to help them increase sales, and has thoughts on how small-business owners in particular can optimize their e-commerce operations for Google Shopping.
“Right now, Google has a very hard focus on the SMB market — they’ve already captured the big retailers,” Capetola says, adding that Google knows that small-business owners need to be able to compete with massive online retailers without spending big bucks.
Google has several products for small retailers hoping to harness these powerful data-backed tools. On April 28, Google launched Google for Retail, which is a dashboard for multiple Google products, including Google Shopping.
In today’s world, just having products listed on your website isn’t enough. By signing up with Google Shopping, you can can instantly get products in front of consumers who are looking to buy. Google for Retail syncs Google Shopping with other Google products, such as AdWords. The service provides a variety of useful data, including how much you pay when someone clicks on an ad, how much your e-commerce store pulls in, and how successful your keywords are at getting clicks. Through Google for Retail, businesses can also apply to become a Google Trusted Store, a badge that will pop up on Google Shopping listings.
“Whether you’re an e-commerce business or a multichannel business, the new Google for Retail offers a one-stop hub to learn more about Google’s solutions for retailers of all sizes,” writes Kim Doan, the product marketing manager for Google Shopping in a blog post announcing the service.
Unleash Killer Product Data
Similar to how web content that has been created using proven search engine optimization practices scores better in Google search results, so does e-commerce content that includes key product data.
“Right now, the biggest tip I could possibly give is to have good product data,” Capetola says. “Your top triggers for Google Shopping are product titles and product descriptions.”
So, for example, if you sell Nike athletic shoes, “you better have ‘Nike shoes’ in the product title or you’re not going to show up,” Capetola says. Brainstorming a variety of keywords is also important to reach the largest number of potential customers. There might not be a whole lot of people searching for “socks with a unicorn print,” but if you use broad, creative keywords, Google would more likely display a pair of unicorn socks for someone looking up “funky socks.”
Make Google Your Digital Showroom
One of the key advantages with Google Shopping is that it puts product images in front of shoppers. This is especially important for retailers focused on design, like jewelers, clothing shops, or graphic designers. Every product picture must showcase the item — and remember that the images display as thumbnails.
This was very important for California stationery company Paper Culture when utilizing Google Shopping. “One of the toughest challenges for us as a small business is that we don’t have the brand of our larger competitors,” says Chris Wu, CEO and co-founder of Paper Culture. “Google Shopping helps us tell our story by showing searchers our unique product designs, right on Google search.”
Wu credits Google Shopping’s image-centered format as a way to highlight Paper Culture’s designs and get them in front of already-interested buyers. By using Google searches as a digital showroom, Wu says she cut her company’s cost per lead in half and increased her return on investment threefold when compared to other online channels.
Meet Customers on any Device
Google right now is heralding mobile, so having a website designed and engineered to display well and function fully when viewed on mobile devices will help Google rank you highly in its Google Shopping rankings on mobile devices — which are fast becoming the preferred platform for e-commerce. Over 2 billion smartphone or tablet users will make some form of mobile commerce transaction by 2017, according to a study by Juniper Research.
Google provides a fast and easy test to see if a site is optimized for mobile. Many web platforms, including WordPress, offer templates with “responsive” design, meaning they automatically reformat to be viewed properly no matter what device is used to access them.
Google Shopping also has a program called Local Inventory Ads that takes advantage of the growing mobile realm. These ads pop up in front of nearby users searching for a product you offer and display how much inventory retailers have in stock at a brick-and-mortar location. This is an especially useful feature in an age of smartphones because it allows you to reach out to all the potential customers in your store’s vicinity.
Google also provides a slew of in-depth resources to help small-business owners better reach the billions of potential customers searching for products online from any device.