Google Shopping’s imminent arrival – who should be worried?

  • Technology
  • January 21, 2016
  • Elly Strang
Google Shopping’s imminent arrival – who should be worried?

There has been no word on when the search engine giant will release Google Shopping in New Zealand.

However, the service rolled out in the US in 2012 and in Australia in 2013, while the buy now button was launched last year, so the New Zealand release may very well be on the near horizon.

The service works via merchants paying Google to list their products on the service. This means it shows up in relevant Google searches with the option to buy the products then and there using a button, which significantly cuts down the transaction time.

The listed products in a Google search are influenced by relevance and the amount the vendor pays.

Last year, Google rolled the “Shop on Google” service out to mobiles.

“For retailers, opting in to Purchases on Google means improved mobile conversions thanks to a simplified checkout process. Participating retailers only pay for clicks on the shopping ads to the product page; all clicks and interactions on the product page are free,” the company wrote in a blog post.

The move cuts into the market share of sites like Amazon and Ebay, removing the need for consumers to seek products out if they’re right there when they Google them.

First retail managing director Chris Wilkinson says Google Shopping should be seen as a competitor for retailers, as certain products from outside the New Zealand may be prioritised if that company has paid for advertising.

As well as this, buy and sell websites will be concerned about its impending arrival.

“Certainly the likes of Trade Me will be watching really closely, because their future success and growth will depend on it,” Wilkinson says.

The Wall Street Journal reports there are concerns felt amongst the retail community that Google will become a giant marketplace where purchases take place, rather than on retailers’ websites.

Experts also warned that although Google isn’t taking a cut of the sales revenue, retailers may miss out on important consumer data when a purchase is made.

But Google has stressed to retailers that shoppers will still belong to them, not Google, and that the service will increase mobile sales now that so much customer traffic comes from there. 

Small phone screens often make trawling through different ecommerce websites a hassle for shoppers, so Google thinks simplifying the process will result in more sales.

The number of people shopping on phones isn’t to be underestimated. Google said last year that searches on mobile devices now outnumber those on personal computers in 10 countries, including the US and Japan.

Also, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out, Google can’t risk upsetting large retailers because they are among the largest spenders on the company’s search ads.

Wilkinson says Kiwi retailers need to understand how the technology works, as it will create a one-click transaction that helps customers finds specific products instantly.

“It’ll be a real disruptor. Retailers need to understand it and in some cases, be a part of it,” he says.

Watch this space. 

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