Google’s “Shopping” page has officially gone live in the U.S., as of this week.
The tech giant’s new offering aggregates personalized product suggestions based on users’ web browsing activity. When it comes time to check out, consumers can do so through Google using their saved preferences, or they may be directed to a brand or retailer’s website.
Google will not hold any inventory, however. Rather than shipping products itself, Google will offer a “Buy with Google Guarantee” on select products, which ensures timely delivery.
Google’s Shopping launch strategy has more to do with declining product search revenue than a desire to become a true e-commerce player. More consumers than ever are beginning their shopping journey on Amazon, rather than Googling products and sifting through potential retail options. That’s changed the way companies are spreading around their advertising dollars, and Google isn’t benefitting from the trend.
Even though it won’t be selling products it owns through Google Shopping, the comprehensive aggregator and machine learning tools Google is employing could prove enticing to brands looking to compete with Amazon. Much of Google Shopping’s product selection comes from big box retailers, like Walmart, Target, Costco and BestBuy.
To browse the selection, online shoppers start at Google.com/shopping. The platform subdivides product selections into categories like Home and Garden, Electronics, Health and Beauty, and Toys and Games. Each curated feed contains items that reflect what shoppers have been browsing in past Google searches, and shoppers can also use the search bar for a more targeted selection.
In March, Google rolled out shoppable ads through its Google Image Search feature, piloting the program with a few introductory search terms. When web surfers search those terms, some of the images that populate are embedded with shoppable ads from a handful of retailers.
Though image-based searches on search engines like Google account for a small fraction of total search volume (which, unsurprisingly, relies much more on text), visual search on Pinterest reached 600 million in February 2018, up from 250 million in the prior-year period. What’s more, 62.9 percent of millennials said they’d like to use visual search to facilitate shopping online.