Commentary

Shopping Homepage Aims To Be Google's Gimbels To Amazon's Macy's

Among other revelations at its annual Marketing Live conference yesterday, Google unveiled a personalized Google Shopping homepage that will replace Google Express. It’s a significant further incursion into Amazon territory even as Jeff Bezos’ operation has been increasingly enticing the advertising dollars that have fueled the search engine over the decades.

Google’s new page “lets consumers compare and filter by features like price or brand, and gives them a chance to buy directly from retailers on Google, in a nearby store or elsewhere online. The revamp will place a Google shopping cart across many of its properties,” writes Megan Graham for CNBC. 

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“Let’s say, for example, that you are watching a YouTube review for a particular product. On the same page of that review, there could be a blue ‘Add To Cart’ button which would allow you to purchase that product right from YouTube,” writes C. Scott Brown for Android Authority.

“However, let’s say you’re not done shopping yet. You then scoot over to Google Search in order to find an accessory for the product you found on YouTube. That accessory could also have that same blue ‘Add To Cart’ button. When you click that, it gets added to your universal shopping cart and you can then check out as normal.”

Or, as in olden days, you can hop in the car and go get it.

“In addition, Shopping ads are being updated to drive in-store pickup traffic. That is, when consumers shop online and click through to buy from a Shopping ad, they will have an easier way to purchase items for in-store pickup. This beta feature requires merchant participation, however. The retailer will need to have product landing pages on their sites that show when in-store pickup is available, as well as a local inventory feed in the Merchant Center that shows which items are in stock, and optionally a list of items that can be quick-shipped to a local store,” reports Sarah Perez for TechCrunch.

Also, “the ‘Google guarantee' offers help from the tech giant if an item is late, isn’t exactly what was ordered, or if there’s a problem getting a refund,” points out  Tonya Garcia for MarketWatch

“The new tool could be tricky when it comes to videos and products directed at children. At a press event on Monday, Oliver Heckmann, vice president of engineering for Google shopping and travel, said Google is looking into those ‘concerns,’ but didn't offer any specifics. A YouTube spokesman later said the video site is specifically meant for people who are 13 or older, so wouldn't accept any ads targeting anyone younger,” writes Richard Nieva for CNET.

“Google’s latest move into Amazon’s core business is playing out as the retail giant makes gains in what has traditionally been the search company’s home turf: digital advertising," observe Daisuke Wakabayashi and Karen Weise for the New York Times. "In an analysis released Tuesday morning, Morgan Stanley estimated that Amazon’s ad business would be valued at $85 billion on Wall Street,” they reveal.

“People may turn to Google to research their interests, but ‘Amazon is about buying actual goods. You are actually doing, not just intending to do, which is why it’s viewed as being so much more useful,’” Brian Wieser, who analyzes media for GroupM, tells them. 

Not that the actual doing is always a bing-bang-boom process. In a blog post outlining yesterday’s announcements, Google Senior Vice President Ads & Commerce Prabhakar Raghavan painted a picture of today’s consumer that is as far removed from how boomers and Gen Xers grew up shopping as a smartphone is from a rotary dial.

“Consider a woman from a recent study, who spent 73 days and interacted with more than 250 touchpoints (searches, video views, and page views) before purchasing a single pair of jeans,” he writes. “She visited several blogs, browsed large merchant sites, searched for local retailers, and watched product reviews on YouTube. Like many of today’s consumers, she wanted to enjoy her time shopping, engaged with brands that inspired her, and narrowed limitless choices before picking the perfect pair.”

Or not. 

“The blue shopping cart on the item shows shoppers they can purchase what they want with simple returns and customer support, backed by a Google guarantee. People can buy confidently, knowing Google is there to help if they don’t get what they were expecting, their order is late, or they have issues getting a refund,” Raghavan adds.

Now if they can guarantee that those jeans will still fit a year down the road, they’ll have a truly differentiating USP.

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