With eCommerce on the rise, fueled by the various COVID-19 lockdowns and mitigation measures around the world, virtually every online platform is now working to align with this shift, and facilitate new shopping processes to help connect consumers with the most relevant recommendations and offers.
And Google is arguably in the best position to facilitate such. With connection to the broadest network of websites, including eCommerce sites and listings, Google is in prime position to provide the most relevant product comparisons, the most in-depth review listings, and help consumers in their eCommerce journeys.
And today, at its annual I/O conference, Google has outlined its latest steps in boosting eCommerce activity, including an enhanced partnership with Shopify and updated product search tools based on screenshots and images.
First off, Google has announced that it's expanding its partnership with Shopify, which will provide new, simplified processes to enable Shopify’s 1.7 million merchants to get their products featured across Google "in just a few clicks".
As per Google:
"This new collaboration with Shopify will enable merchants to become discoverable to high-intent consumers across Google Search, Shopping, YouTube, Google Images and more."
Google hasn't provided specifics on the updated process as yet, but the idea is that it will enable Shopify merchants to easily list their products within Google's shopping surfaces, which have seen a significant increase in interest over the past 12 months.
Indeed, Google says that it's seen a 70% increase in the size of its product catalog, and an 80% increase in merchants on its platform, over the past year. That was most notably boosted by Google eliminating all charges for Google Shopping product listings last April, in order to assist retailers looking to shift their focus amid the pandemic.
The increased capacity to reach more searchers holds major appeal, and as more products come into Google's system, it's becoming a more powerful assistant for eCommerce discovery.
And now, Google's looking to push that further with the evolution of what it calls its 'Shopping Graph'.
As explained by Google:
"The Shopping Graph is a dynamic, AI-enhanced model that understands a constantly-changing set of products, sellers, brands, reviews and most importantly, the product information and inventory data we receive from brands and retailers directly - as well as how those attributes relate to one another. With people shopping across Google more than a billion times a day, the Shopping Graph makes those sessions more helpful by connecting people with over 24 billion listings from millions of merchants across the web. It works in real-time so people can discover and shop for products that are available right now."
So, for Shopify retailers, the simplified integration process will essentially link them into this updated Shopping Graph, which will ensure more Google users who are looking for certain products will find their listings.
That will be a major lure for all Shopify merchants, and will enhance Google's discovery and shopping experience overall, making it a bigger consideration for all eCommerce brands.
In addition to this, Google's also looking to facilitate more product discovery via image searches, with a new suggestion prompt within Google Photos to search uploaded visuals for relevant product matches.
As you can see here, when you upload an image to Google Photos, you'll now see an option to 'search inside this screenshot' or photo for potential product matches. Which is very much like Pinterest's Lens tool, which Google has already replicated in several ways.
Clearly, as Pinterest moves more into product discovery, and onto Google's turf, it's keen to push back on such wherever it can.
Google is also looking to remind users of their previous shopping activity with a new module in Google Chrome that will highlight any open carts users have left across the web, in case you want to revisit at a later stage.
And finally, Google is also working on a new process that will enable users to link their favorite loyalty programs to their Google account, highlighting deals and additional purchase options when you go to check out, which could help to further enhance connection between brands and consumers.
There's a range of considerations within these announcements, and a range of ways that these new tools could apply to your eCommerce listings.
For Shopify merchants, the connection is direct, and it will be worth watching for more info on how you can connect your product listings into Google's shopping graph to maximize exposure to more shoppers. But as noted, even for those not on Shopify, the added discovery and listing options will facilitate a significant upgrade for Google's shopping tools, and that added functionality will likely lead to more searchers and purchase activity.
At a billion shopping sessions a day already, if you're not paying attention to Google's shop listings and options, you're likely missing out - and that looks set to become even more pressing with the addition of these tools.