Google has announced a collection of catalog apps from more than 300 brands now available on the Web -- but how and when will product listing ads, search data and its newly launched Tag Manager each play a role in a move to compete with Amazon and eBay, which have become master catalogs for shoppers?
The move follows the introduction last year of free iPad and Android apps to help consumers shop the Web. Shoppers can now browse the entire catalog of inventory on the Web through Google Shopping from Brighton, Eddie Bauer, Crate & Barrel, J Crew, Williams-Sonoma, and other retail stores. A long list of retail stores runs in alphabetical order by brand. Site visitors also can search through more than 25 categories like women's fashion, home, kids, electronics, toys, and health -- but the catalogs today require a swipe rather than search. The site features weekly editor's picks and a section for newcomers, and retailers with recently published catalogs.
The Google Catalogs Web versions direct consumers to the merchants' Web sites, but Google Business Product Manager Abigail Holtz tells us about plans to "incorporate catalogs more deeply throughout the Google Shopping experience, giving you more ways to find ideas and inspiration as you shop and engage with your favorite brands." What does that mean for the layout of Google Shopping and how does that capitalize on Product Listing Ads (PLAs)? Will the PLA images appear in the catalog, allowing consumers to click through images in the catalog to make a purchase? It would certainly make the catalogs more interactive.
It would increase social interaction, similar to The Find.com, which taps into HTML5. Microsoft teamed with shopping site TheFind.com to develop the site.
What does that mean for brands? "While we can't share precise integration plans just yet, I can give you a bit more context: Google Shopping is an experience designed to help people find the products they’re shopping for, while Google Catalogs is designed to be a browse shopping experience," said a Google spokesperson. "With Google Shopping, consumers can quickly and easily find and compare hard goods online. In contrast, Google Catalogs offers a media-rich, engaging and inspiring lean-back shopping experience for soft goods. We’re planning to use Catalogs content to enrich the experience on Google Shopping in the future."
Investing $250,000 for sellers, the ecommerce company Etsy, known for providing a platform to sell and buy handmade and vintage items, said in a blog post that buying the Google ads will enable the site to gauge the effectiveness of PLAs for items sold through the marketplace. Sellers can opt out from being included in the free PLAs. It's free to marketplace sellers because Etsy will pay for them.
Making sure Etsy makes the most of its quarter-of-a-million-dollar investment, the site will experiment with listing pages coming from Google PLAs. "The item that the shopper clicks on from Google will always be front and center, but we may introduce new modules to the page to see if visitors are more likely to make purchases or sign up for Etsy, leading to more purchases down the road, if we show them more items," according to the post.