Computer screen with online shop selling multiple items.
Posted on April 27, 2020
Image by 200 Degrees from Pixabay

Google Shopping for free: Changes on the horizon

Google Shopping is an important asset for countless businesses. It’s how many shoppers find the products they want to buy and how businesses find the customers they need to keep going. This service has operated seamlessly for several years now but it is set for some big changes in 2020 that could have a massive impact on e-commerce businesses and their customers.

What is Google Shopping?

Every time you search for a product or something related to a product, Google displays product ads from its partners. These partners set a price-per-click (PPC) to appear in the shopping results and when someone clicks on those results, they pay that PPC.

It’s an invaluable and integral part of the Google ecosystem and one that businesses are increasingly relying on.

We spoke to one of our clients about Google Shopping and they had this to say about the experience:

“We wouldn’t be where we are today without Google Shopping Ads. We were spending over £50 per conversion on Facebook, even though our products sold for just £10. On Google Display Ads, those conversions averaged around half £25, still more than we could afford. Just as we were preparing to give up, a Google specialist recommend shopping ads and we never looked back. We now have a conversion cost of between £2 and £5 and can operate a profitable business purely based on these ads”.

The changes

The problem with Google Shopping is that you need to have a Google Ads account. It requires you to spend money as you bid against competitors, and as some of these can be rich multinational companies, that’s not always viable.

The client we mentioned above operates a relatively niche site selling products that have few competitors. But it’s a different story if you’re selling popular, branded goods. In this case, small businesses simply can’t compete.

However, it’s clear that Google understands this issue as they’ve recently announced that all Google Shopping listings will soon be free. In other words, all retailers can apply to have their products listed on Google Shopping for free—putting them in front of millions of people who use Google every day—without spending a dime.

The news: Sell for free on Google

Google has confirmed that these changes will be implemented by the end of April across the United States, before being implemented into European searches by the end of the year.

Existing users of Merchant Center (the program required to add listings) and Google Ads won’t need to do anything and will benefit from streamlined processes and cheaper listings. Everyone else will be invited to submit listings through Merchant Center, after which their products will be visible in the Google Shopping storefront.

Is Google Shopping for free a good thing?

This change should be positive. It will allow retailers to sell for free on Google and means they don’t have to worry about spending the big bucks to compete with the big brands.

However, for those who have already found their niche and are making a good profit from Google Shopping Ads, there is a degree of uncertainty. It’s also a concern for ad agencies who charge companies to run these ads.

But there are more positives than negatives and whatever happens, the world of e-commerce is set for a major shake-up. Google shopping for free could inject new life into struggling businesses, it could pave the way for more big business dominance. Only time will tell.

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