Christmas is fast approaching, and with people still shopping online at higher rates, given the ongoing uncertainty around the COVID situation, it’s important for brands to maximize their digital listings to ensure they meet consumers where they’re searching, and showcase their products in the right context.
And Google plays a big part in this. While social media is a powerful brand awareness and connection tools, and social platforms are gradually playing a bigger role in discovery and product connection, Google remains the key surface for product searches. Which is especially relevant right now, as consumers look for local shopping options, and whether stories are open for them to buy from.
Given this, it’s important to take note of Google’s product and business display updates, and to factor them into your planning – and today, Google has announced a range of new commerce tools for the upcoming holiday season, which all retailers need to be considering in their plans.
First off, Google has added new shipping and return annotations in Google Search and Shopping results, which are now available across free and paid listings.
As explained by Google:
“Shoppers can now see when their orders will arrive, with shipping annotations like "Free delivery by Fri, Dec 24,” “Get it by Dec 24” and “Free X-day” for products that ship for free in five business days or less. And to give shoppers more confidence in their purchases, you can now indicate extended holiday return windows with return annotations like "Free 90 day returns" or "Free returns until Jan 31.”
Prompts like these could be all it takes to get consumers to take that extra interest, and click-through to your site, and it could be a hugely valuable addition to how your products are displayed in relevant search queries.
Google also notes that merchants operating on Shopify, WooCommerce or GoDaddy can now seamlessly sync their products to show up on Google for free.
Expanding on this, merchants can also turn their YouTube videos into virtual storefronts to showcase their products.
“Connect a product feed to either your Video action campaigns to drive customers to your site, or to your App campaigns to take them to your app. In the coming weeks, most advertisers will be able to link a product feed to Discovery ads to show more relevant products in moments where customers are exploring their interests in Google’s feeds.”
That provides even more exposure potential, in discovery surfaces that can be linked back to your product listings, helping to connect with more people at the right point in the consideration cycle.
Google also notes that brands should ensure that their product and business information, via Google My Business, is up to date, and that their catalog listings are connected through to each Google surface, helping to provide additional context.
“For example, searches for "open now near me" have grown globally by more than 200% year over year. In the U.S., searches for “local gift shops near me” have increased 440% in just the past month as people switch between online and offline shopping - more than ever before. If your physical stores are open for in-store shopping, it's crucial to make sure your customers can easily find you online.”
Businesses can list their in-store services and safety measures via their Google profile, while you can also add in-store and or curbside pickup annotations via your listings.
Finally, Google is also adding more tools and reports to help businesses track performance with their campaigns and listings.
“[Brands can] check out the best sellers report to help you decide which new brands and products to stock for the holidays. If you’re running sales or promotions to move inventory especially in the lead up to Black Friday or Cyber Monday, then you’ll soon be able to see real-time with deals reporting in Merchant Center.”
The added detail will provide more context for your planning, and could be key measures as you look to maximize your marketing efforts.
As noted, while all online platforms are seeing increased activity, Google remains a key consideration for maximizing discovery, and meeting potential shoppers as they search for products and services.
Given this, it’s crucial for brands to ensure that their Google My Business info remains up to date, and that they maintain an awareness of newer additions like this to cater to rising interest and need.
You can read more about Google’s latest shopping and product listing additions here.