It was a theme at this year’s IBM Smart Commerce Convention. We heard it again at IRCE 2014 in Chicago: the future of retail marketing is omni-channel; the pathways to purchase are better understood and better linked than ever before, and product discovery across all buying channels is key.
Google clearly understands this, and is working to give retailers greater omni-channel capability with the release of Local Product Listing Ads. In combination with mobile Product Ads, local inventory and physical store location info will allow shoppers to find your products quickly and more conveniently.
Here are some of the benefits retailer marketers will see from Local PLAs:
- Drive foot traffic – Local PLA promotes your inventory (specific to physical stores) to online shoppers at all times. Any time someone makes a shopping query on a location-enabled device, your most readily-accessible inventory can be prominently displayed.
- Help shoppers discover related products – beyond the initial product search, Local PLA online storefronts show additional items the shopper may like. Once the shopper is engaged with your storefront, they can discover additional items of interest that are available nearby.
- Be easy to find – Display store hours, directions, and a click-to-call phone number at no additional cost. This provides users a rich shopping experience and maximum opportunity to quickly find the right product at a convenient location nearby.
The conversion funnel is no longer a funnel at all, as we’ve learned: purchasing decisions are a non-linear process, typically involving multiple touch-points as the shopper bounces back and forth, trying to make the most informed choice. It is crucial for forward-thinking retailers to express their product catalogs through as many channels as possible, and deliver product content that is as accurate, compelling, and as informative as possible.
Mobile product ads are on the rise: by the end of 2015, mobile traffic on Google Shopping is expected to surpass that of desktop browsers. Local data is also emerging as a key ingredient to success: a recent Google study found that 18% of local search results on mobile devices resulted in purchases, versus only 7% for non-local search results. Furthermore, consumers act quickly after finding local search results: 50% of Smartphone users visit a physical store within a day of their search, compared to 34% for computers/tablets.
Google has also made some headway in measuring the impact of online programs on overall retail performance (including brick-and-mortar stores). The Estimated Total Conversions feature is an area of continued investment, and we expect this to remain a focus for Google.
The point is: online product listings inform in-store purchases, particularly when mobile devices come into play. Be sure that your product data shows up, and provides direction to the shopper with respect to their physical location.
Supporting Your Local Inventory Feed
Google Local Inventory Ads presents another big data challenge: participating retailers must send accurate store-specific product data, requiring more frequent harvesting of inventory and price information from backend data systems. Your data system must be flexible and robust enough to dynamically mirror the fluctuating prices and inventory of brick-and-mortar stores, and evolve as new stores are added
CommerceHub is uniquely able to support Google Local Inventory Ads. Our specialized team of data integration engineers and sturdy data infrastructure, which power channel integrations today, will help retailers launch quickly on Google Local Inventory Ads. CommerceHub will feature tools custom-designed for managing Local Inventory Ads, and will incorporate the program’s traffic and revenue metrics into the platform’s robust reporting engine. The same content tools that CommerceHub offers for current channels can be used to augment and optimize local product data.
As with standard Google Shopping, CommerceHub’s DemandStream platform is powered by full connectivity with AdWords APIs. Integration with CommerceHub creates a direct pipeline between the local store inventory data in your backend system and Google.
Data quality is perhaps even more crucial to Local Inventory Ads than traditional Google Shopping. With standard product ads, an incorrect price or out-of-stock product may result in a wasted click, a sub-par shopping experience, or a hit to quality score and AdRank. For Local PLAs, incorrect data can send a shopper to a physical store only to discover a different price than they expected, or their desired product out-of-stock, wasting the shopper’s time and eroding their trust in your retail brand. But, if you get it right, you will win shoppers that trust you to deliver timely, relevant product listings wherever they are.