Shopping Actions: Overview and Interview with Google

In by Kaitlin Hoffman

Are you taking full advantage of the extensive reach the new Google Shopping experience offers? Shopping Actions has created a new way of shopping, bringing search engine browsing and purchasing together in a single platform. And because Google allows you to maintain your own branding, you’re able to create the customer experience you want.


Shopping Actions at-a-glance

  • 68% of shoppers acquired through Shopping Actions are net new to merchants1
  • Participating merchants see a 30% increase in basket size year-over-year2
  • Shopping Actions enabled listings are now surfacing: on the new Google Shopping, on YouTube (coming soon) and within native Image Search along with the home assistant device.
  • Deeper loyalty with 1-click re-ordering and basket building
  • Google provides first interaction customer support and returns

What is Shopping Actions?

Hundreds of millions of people visit Google every day to discover and buy new items. With Shopping Actions, now they can buy products from wherever they are on Google. Whether they’re searching for products, watching related videos, comparing images, or talking to their assistants, they’ll find it easy to shop and instantly purchase products using the Google universal shopping cart.

The shopping cart lets potential customers know they can buy directly on Google, and shop worry free, with simple returns and customer support backed by a Google guarantee. And the merchant pays only when a purchase is made. Connecting with Shopping Actions enables merchants to:

  • Connect with shoppers through Google Search – With billions of searches per day on Google, it’s the first place U.S. shoppers go to discover or find a new retailer or brand.
  • Participate in the new Google Shopping experience – A new, immersive way to discover and compare millions of products from thousands of stores. When shoppers are ready to buy, they can choose to purchase online, in a nearby store or directly on Google.
  • Easily get on the Google Assistant – Allows customers to shop simply by speaking to their Google Home device or Google Assistant, which is available on more than one billion devices worldwide!
  • Present shoppers’ favorite products to them while they’re watching YouTube (coming soon)Shopping Actions on YouTube will enable a seamless checkout experience within the YouTube app.
  • Instantly sell to shoppers within a Google Images search – Allows shoppers to instantly buy in the moments they’re looking for inspiration.

What Are Google’s Requirements for Participation in Shopping Actions?

Google’s complete policy can be found here, but these are some highlights:

  • Data Quality – If advertising on any other Merchant Center ad program, merchant must have a history of good account health.
  • Return policy –Provide a minimum 30-day return policy for all items with no restocking fees, starting from the delivery date except for a minimum of 14 days for electronic items, or ineligibility for food items, perishables, or living things. There may be exceptions granted for other non-returnable items, such as gift cards or memberships.
  • Shipping – Must be able to ship from the US and special shipping options (e.g. Freight, Liftgate or White Glove fees, scheduled delivery) are not supported.
  • Unsupported Product Categories –Customizable goods, counterfeit goods, final sale items, refurbished and used goods, pre-order items, gifting, and automotive goods with ACES identifiers are not supported by Google Shopping. 

CommerceHub is proud to be a first-to-market Shopping Actions integration partner. To give you more insight into Shopping Actions, we asked Shannon Sieve, Head of Business Development for Google Shopping, to answer the questions below: 

Q: How is Shopping Actions different than paid listings and how does it impact paid listings?

A: While Shopping ads drive customers to your website, Shopping Actions allows them to purchase your products directly on Google. Shopping Actions is complementary to your existing Shopping ads.  It increases your overall presence on Google to drive incremental traffic, conversions and sales on top of what you’re getting today. 

Shopping Actions units are triggered when we know the user has intent to purchase in the short term AND that the unit will have a higher click thru rate than the traditional Shopping ad unit. Merchants using both Shopping ads and Shopping Actions have seen an average increase in conversions at a lower cost, compared to running Shopping ads alone.

Q: How is Shopping Actions different than Amazon, eBay and Walmart?

A: Shopping Actions isn’t trying to be Amazon, eBay or Walmart. Instead, our goal is to bring users, merchants, brands and manufacturers together throughout the shopping journey.  We think that it’s important to give users as many choices as possible, and that’s exactly what we’re trying to accomplish.

Our belief is that shopping is different from buying, and we think we can do a lot to help consumers along the way, as they discover, browse and research all the options available. We believe Google is uniquely positioned to deliver on this goal because we have all the right ingredients: numerous properties with over a billion users, strength in machine learning and we understand user intent and context.

Q: How has Google Shopping changed from Google Express? Can you tell me more about the new Google Shopping?

A: Anyone in the US who goes to shopping.google.com will see a new homepage with browsable product categories, like Health & Beauty or Electronics, as well as personalized shopping recommendations. And, as part of this new experience we’re launching, users can now buy the things they love directly on Google — if you see the ‘buy on Google’ icon, that means we’ll handle the checkout, payment and customer service process, including returns.

Q: The new Google Shopping sounds a lot like Google Express. What happened to Google Express?

A: We announced back in May that we’re merging Google Express into the new Google Shopping experience. The same stores and products, free delivery options and easy checkout offered by Google Express will now be available wherever you see the option to buy on Google (indicated by the colorful cart icon).

Q: Is the new Google Shopping really new?

A: Absolutely. Along with everything that users love about Express (buying on Google, easy returns, etc.), we’re launching new features like Price Tracking and combining existing features like Local Results  into one unified destination for users. 

Q: What was the old Google Shopping?

A: Previously, Google Shopping was mainly focused on connecting users directly to merchants’ own websites. And that’s not going away — we want to make sure we give everyone the best options available. Sometimes that means finding what you need on Google Shopping and purchasing it through another retailer’s site. In other cases, merchants are offering their items for sale directly on Google Shopping — just look for the colorful cart icon.

Q: What are the unique benefits of Google Shopping? 

A: Shopping Actions allows merchants to surface their inventory on Search, Google Shopping and the Google Assistant. The product helps deliver a unified experience along the entire shopping journey, making it simpler for users to buy merchant products. 

  • New user reach and boost sales across surfaces by surfacing their inventory on Search, Google Shopping and the Assistant, merchants will be able to reach new users and boost sales across platforms through a frictionless buying experience. 
  • A personalized shopping cart and shopping list across Search, Shopping and Assistant for users to easily buy multiple merchant products and drive reordering. 
  • Drive loyalty and repeat business through loyalty cards, making it easy for users to re-order and build baskets of your products based on purchase history and preferences on Google Shopping.
  • A pay per sale model where merchants only get charged when a conversion happens.
  • Trusted: all purchases are safe, secure and protected by Google. Users feel confident and comfortable saving their payment details for fast checkout with high quality merchants through Google. 

Q: What is the value of having a partner implement/manage this experience?

A: Merchants who choose to work through a partner will benefit from the experience the partner brings to the table. Our partners have already completed the implementation process and onboarded dozens of merchants, so new merchants should experience easier, smoother and faster onboarding. In addition, we’re constantly working to better equip partners with the tools they need to manage Shopping Actions. Partners have a direct line into Google which means they’re also up-to-date on the latest and greatest with this rapidly-evolving program. 

Are you ready to connect or get more strategic about your Shopping Actions presence? Gain access to our joint webinar with Google here.

Sources:

  1. Mastercard Pre/Post Analysis of Shopping Actions Performance, June 2018. Analysis conducted among MasterCard users of a subset of merchants that reflect ~40% of Shopping Actions spend and ~a third of transactions. Merchants were weighted based on contribution to the competitive set given their relative size and ecomm only merchants excluded from weightings for offline metrics. Anchor period 24 Aug ‘17 – 30 Sept ‘17 with rolling 6 month pre/post analysis
  2. Google internal data, Q1 2017 vs 2018 YTD.