eCommerce dominates the retail industry and will likely continue its stranglehold of the sector well after this coronavirus pandemic has subsided. Brick-and-mortar stores probably won’t be a part of the new world order. So in a bold (but necessary) move, Google has opened up its shopping tab to free product listings.
For many industries, “returning to normal” post-pandemic is just a fantasy. Shopping outlets and malls are a prime example of a sector that may not survive the fallout of COVID-19. Retailers are forced to pivot and embrace the eCommerce game if they hope to outlast this recession.
Google Shopping making this change to its product search offering is a big deal. Unpaid product listings optimized and identified by Google’s algorithm will dominate the results on the search engine’s shopping tab. Google Shopping used to offer free listings but moved to only paid product listings in 2012. The reason for the move to paid only products had to do with quality control concerns and an inability to ensure the product feed information matched the data on the site.
Bill Ready, president of Google’s commerce division, has openly stated in a blog post that COVID-19 is the reason behind this move. Google Shopping is making an effort to support struggling retailers during this time — that’s nice. However, it’s no secret, advertisers have no budgets and Amazon is taking over the world — two major problems that threaten Google from a business perspective.
No one can shy away from the fact that digital marketing spend is at an all-time low and online advertising budgets are slashed, but online shopping has simultaneously experienced a massive upsurge. Jeff Bezos has reportedly enjoyed adding a cool $24 billion to his personal wealth. With this in mind, it makes sense that Google chose to make a strategic move to recoup the enormous loss of many companies’ marketing budgets.
Taking advantage of this free listings option is simple for SEOs and eCommerce aficionados who’ve previously engaged in eCommerce optimization on Amazon or the like. And, if you want to ensure you remain ahead of your competitors, you can continue to make use of the paid option. If you need more assistance or are new to eCommerce, Google will help you out. Check out its help center piece explaining the steps to take.
Google claims this change will be fully operational before the end of April throughout the U.S. and will be available globally before the end of the year.
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