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Google Shopping Actions: Retailers’ Defense Against Amazon or a New Adversary?

3 MINUTE READ | March 30, 2018

Google Shopping Actions: Retailers’ Defense Against Amazon or a New Adversary?

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Garrett Milliken

Garrett Milliken has written this article. More details coming soon.

Google and Amazon have been at war ever since Amazon started stealing away searchers looking to buy online. As Google began losing ground in the realm of product based searches, the company fought back with the rollout of Google Shopping ads (formerly, but often still referred to as PLAs) released in 2010, and Google Express in 2013. These two products have come to look and feel a lot like Amazon; however, Google’s latest effort to steal back searchers has some retailers worried they’ll get caught in the crossfire between the two companies fighting for dominance in the world of e-commerce.

Google’s latest lob against Amazon came last week with the announcement of Google Shopping Actions. Daniel Alegre, Google’s President of Retail & Shopping, presented Shopping Actions at ShopTalk as a universal shopping cart that users can add to across Google Shopping, Google Express, and Google Assistant with voice search. Rather than being listed on a pay-per-click model, products will be listed on a pay-per-sale model, the same way Amazon monetizes products listed on its platform.

This is another move from Google to keep users in the Google ecosystem as much as possible. By providing more options on the search results page that lead to a Google service rather than an advertiser’s site, they are increasing their share of voice in search. This makes sense for Google since many product-focused searches that start on Google likely end up on Amazon.

The question would be, then, does this make sense for retailers?

There hasn’t been much information released about the exact form that Shopping Actions listings will take across Google’s platforms. Depending on how Google ends up prioritizing listings from the Shopping Actions program, this could mean less visibility or increased cost for current Google Shopping ad programs. So far though, Google has not made any statements on the matter.

Evaluating the potential value of being on Shopping Actions will likely have to wait until initial results outside of the launch stores are reported (including Target, Ulta, and 1-800-Flowers; which naturally all give glowing reviews of the new offering). Performance will likely vary based on business size and retail vertical as well.

What we do know is that the technical and logistical overhead will be high, especially for advertisers not already onboarded with Google Express. Businesses can integrate with Shopping Actions in one of two ways: Online or Local. With Online Integration, retailers can “ship orders directly from warehouse and central shipping hubs.” Local Integration will allow retailers to fulfill orders “directly from their local physical storefronts.” Either of these options will likely require technical expertise, new systems, and logistical considerations.

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For brands already seeing strong performance on Google Express, Shopping Actions could be a great way to expand their reach on Google platforms. For everyone else, it might be better to wait until more specific information is released about Google’s latest offering before assuming the potential gain will outweigh the costs to integrate.

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