Google the marketplace?
Should Amazon and eBay be worried?
We previously wrote about Google updating their shopping features in a bid to battle for more of the market share from the likes of Amazon and eBay. None of the moves Google has made in the past year, like improving their shopping features, have been at all surprising, but their recent move to make all listings in the US free for merchants on Google shopping is unprecedented.
With the Covid-19 crisis meaning that people are doing more shopping online, Google’s bid to allow all merchants in the US to list free is a welcome change for both merchants and shoppers alike. But how are companies like Amazon and eBay expected to compete with free listings?
What is Google actually offering?
Whilst one might believe that there is some sort of catch here - there isn’t. Google is offering free product listings for all US merchants from the end of April. Another benefit for merchants is that they don’t need to do anything at all to be able to access the free listings, this will be automatic. Considering how much this is going to cause Google’s revenue to drop, one might assume this will only be available to existing merchants, and there will be some sort of cap on new merchants joining while this rolls out.
However, Google’s President of Commerce, Bill Ready states “If you’re an existing user of Merchant Center and Shopping ads, you don't have to do anything to take advantage of the free listings, and for new users of Merchant Center, we'll continue working to streamline the onboarding process over the coming weeks and months.” The help centre also gives merchants the heads up that they will soon be able to report on unpaid clicks as well. There is still a lot to become clear on how this will work in practice, but Google have described it as being similar to the way websites do not need to pay to appear on search listings.
(Now, sellers can list their items for free on Google shopping - image source google.com)
How will it work?
Google shopping ads are recognised worldwide by anyone who has searched for something they are looking to buy online. There has not been an announced change to the way Google shopping works or looks - so it will be the same for customers, just with a lot more choice.
Google is also introducing a new type of partnership with Paypal, which looks set to make the merchant onboarding process a lot smoother by letting merchants link up their existing accounts. Nothing will change when it comes to the paid advertising slots, they will still be available to buy. It will just mean there are more standard listings than usual.
What does this mean for brand protection?
With retailers now being able to access free listings, there will obviously be a huge uptake in products listed. This incentive could easily mean a spike in brand protection issues, especially as there is now no cost involved in creating a listing.
If you are worried about any aspect of your brand protection during these significant changes by Google, please contact us here at globaleyez.