For retailers selling online used to be a novelty. It was something they dabbled in, experimented with, but never really took seriously. Their focus was on their ‘bricks and mortar’ store, advertising to get customers in through the front door of their shop.

But customer habits are changing. More and more customers are becoming increasingly comfortable ordering a wide range of goods online; clothes, shoes, parts, appliances and toys. Even products that may be impractical or uneconomical to deliver to a letterbox, are being bought online and collected in person.

Even retailers who will likely rely on in-person sales for some time to come, are finding that the purchase decision (the point where a customer decided what product they will buy and from which retailer) is happening online. They’re walking into the store with their mind already made up about what they are buying.

With this monumental shift online for retailers happening across the board, it’s important to look at all the ways you can stay relevant and stay visible to prospective customers. One of those ways is Google Shopping and we’ll take a few minutes to explain what is is, the benefits of using it and how to get started.

What is Google Shopping?

Google Shopping is part of Google Ads and designed specifically for online stores to be able to list their products at the top of Google’s organic search results and in Google’s shopping results. Like other Google ads if someone clicks on your product listing they get taken to the product page on your website and you pay Google whatever the cost per click is (e.g. $1.20).

Unlike Google ads there’s not much room for persuasive sales copy – it’s basically the product title, a photo, the price and maybe if you offer free shipping.

This means it suits retailers who offer great prices or have unique products, anything that makes them stand out as an obvious choice when competing head-to-head with other online retailers.

Similar to Google ads, the order of ads shown is based on bidding, so you can pay a higher cost per click (CPC) to have your result show ahead of your competitors.

Google have some strict rules that merchants need to follow to avoid having their account suspended or canceled including a clear refund policy and a secure checkout process. Product details must also be up-to-date and accurate (the merchant’s list needs to be updated at least every 30 days).

For retailers with competitive pricing, Google Shopping is an easy way to get specific products showing up in the search results.

Of course, Google is keen for you, the retailer, to use Google Shopping simply because it’s just one more way it can a bigger share of your advertising budget, but is it right for you?

Why use Google Shopping?

As much as it would be nice to be successful online without having to hand over stacks of moolah to the big G, it’s an unfortunate reality for online businesses and especially for new retailers wanting to be found on Google.

It does have advantages over traditional advertising but it can still be expensive – you need to factor that into your pricing to make sure you stay profitable.

While it’s worth looking into regular Google Ads, using Google Shopping can be an easier, more direct route to potential customers, shortening the distance between a searching online shopper and a sale.

The advantages of Google Shopping for retailers include:

  • Your products are shown directly on Google’s first page of search results.
  • Clicks will be from people ready to buy.
  • With the price shown on the ad, you’re more likely to get sales from clicks.
  • You can organise your products into groups and assign more budget to more profitable/successful products.
  • You can give ad priority to shoppers based on their location, time of day or device – this can work well if you have a local store and want to attract anyone nearby.
  • It encourages you to keep your product list (also called a product/data feed) up-to-date and organised.
  • You appear in the Shopping section of Google (it has its own tab on google.co.nz).
  • You can match ad spend to the exact products that are making you money.

If you’re planning on spending money on advertising online anyway then retailers would be remiss to ignore Google Shopping. Try it, it’s easy enough to measure how successful it is for your shop – and just pause it if you’re not getting a good return on your ad spend.

How do I get started with Google Shopping?

There are two things you need to setup to get started with Google Shopping: A Google Ads account and your Google Merchant Centre (and link the two).

Setting up your Google Merchant Centre account will require you to:

1 – Visit the Merchant Centre and sign up.

2 – Verify and claim your URL – You should have your own website, preferably with an SSL certificate (https). All our ecommerce shopping websites come with SSL (when you host with us).

3 – Upload your product data – This involves creating a list in Google’s required text format. We can help with this.

4 – Create a Shopping campaign in Ads – If you don’t already have a Google Ads account, you can sign up here. We offer a Google Ads setup service if you would like help.

5 – Sign up with Google ShoppingVisit the official website and sign up.

That’s it! If you would like help with any step of the process, just get in touch!

Google Shopping: An introduction to the basics
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