Typically, companies have to pay to have their products come up as shoppable search results on Google. Like ad placements, Google Shopping lets companies spend more to get prime real estate in results that let customers buy right in Google. For platforms that have aimed to increase their – for lack of a better word – shoppability, half the battle is losing customers when they’re forced to click out from an ad to buy elsewhere. Google’s been building its internal shopping ecosystem; to participate, companies have had to pay.
During Covid-19, Google has seen an opportunity. By removing that barrier, more small businesses and brands can compete for the same capability in search results. Right now, any boost of visibility for these companies does two things for retail: it provides much-needed revenue potential for smaller eCommerce companies that otherwise might not have had the budget to pay for Google Shopping placement before, and it could also take pressure off of bigger retailers that are struggling to handle essential retail orders and other online traffic that’s stressing their supply chains.
Companies will still be able to pay for top placement in Google Shopping, however, making it more of a pay-to-play hierarchy rather than a pure pay-to-play. In doing this, Google is modeling itself more like Amazon. It has the potential to become more of an everything store, with those willing to pay more listed at the top. A lot of product searches start on Amazon – but even more start on Google, and with more product results available to shop, that could launch a lasting habit for customers at a time when Amazon has been hit by order and delivery delays.
By Hilary Milnes