Google is giving its Shopping destination a revamp and introducing a universal cart across its platform of services, including Search, Shopping, Images, and even YouTube. The search company announced today an entirely redesigned and now personalized Google Shopping experience where shoppers can discover and compare products, then checkout instantly using their Google account.
As a result, the Google Express app will become the new Google Shopping app as the standalone “Express” brand is merged into the new set of Shopping products and features.
The changes appear to be a competitive move meant to rival all the new ways consumers shop and discover products online — such as browsing Pinterest, or being inspired by Instagram ads or shoppable posts, for instance.
Meanwhile, Google knows that its network of sites are also often part of the shopping process, but it hasn’t always well-capitalized on this. People today use web searches, or look at pictures of products they want on Google Images. Sometimes they even watch YouTube videos where the products are unboxed, demonstrated, and discussed.
Now it aims to leverage its various platforms and increase its ad revenue.
For starters, it’s introducing a new, personalized Google Shopping homepage where consumers can filter products by brands they love, or features they want, as well as read product reviews and watch videos. For example, explains Google, if you were in the market for a set of new headphones, you could filter for attributes like “wireless” or a brand like “Sony.”
Some items will also include a blue shopping cart button that, when clicked, will allow the consumer to add the item in question to a universal cart where the purchase is backed by a Google guarantee, plus customer service and easy returns.
This, says Google, represents a merging of Google Shopping with Google’s other checkout and delivery service, Google Express. Following the changes, the Google Express app will update and become Google Shopping instead. it will feature the all-new Google Shopping experience which has the transactions built in and the universal shopping cart.
Brands that already participate in Shopping Actions for Google Assistant will be included in this new purchase experience, which is going live now across Google Shopping, Google.com, and the Google Assistant.
Shopping Actions will expand to Google Images and YouTube later in the year.
In other cases, retailers may use ads, including the highly visual Showcase Shopping Ads, to drive traffic to their own websites instead. These ads were previously available on Google Shopping, and are now expanding to Google Images, the feed on Discover, and soon, YouTube.
That means if you’re on Google’s app or watching YouTube videos for ideas, Google will now be able to capture that interest and turn it into clicks and conversions. These ads today appeal mostly to newcomers to a brand, as 80 percent of traffic to retailers’ websites from a Showcase Shopping ad is from someone who just discovered the brand, Google notes.
In addition, Shopping ads are being updated to drive in-store pickup traffic. That is, when consumers shop online and click through to buy from a Shopping ad, they will have an easier way to purchase items for in-store pickup. This beta feature requires merchant participation, however. The retailer will need to have product landing pages on their sites that show when in-store pickup is available as well as a local inventory feed in the Merchant Center that shows which items are in stock, and optionally a list of items that can be quick-shipped to a local store.
Retailers will also now be able to optimize their Shopping ads not only by specific goals but by where the ads display, too. For example, they can choose whether ad campaigns appear on Google.com, Images Search, YouTube or elsewhere across the web. Brands can also work with their retailer partners to use the brand’s own budget in order to help promote top products in retailers’ shopping campaigns. Those interested in this Shopping campaigns with partners beta program, have to sign up to participate.
Google has been moving towards this direction for some time. Google Express wasn’t really working, but Google knew that it had the traffic elsewhere across its platforms that could turn product discovery into ad dollars, clicks, and conversions. In the past, it began testing new layouts for Images that looked just like Pinterest, and tried used its Image site to connect users to Pinterest-like interests, including recipes and products. On YouTube, it’s been rolling out Merch shelves under videos, as well, which allow creators to sell items — a feature that blazed a trail to make YouTube a more shoppable platform.
“We’re making the places where people come to browse and explore products on Google shoppable,” said Surojit Chatterjee, Vice President of Product Management, Shopping, in an announcement. “These new shopping experiences let people shop and purchase frictionlessly right where they already turn to for research and inspiration: Search, Google Images, YouTube and a redesigned Google Shopping destination,” he noted.