Online search giant Google is partnering with retailers such as Ulta Beauty, Costco Wholesale, Home Depot, Walmart and Target. The program will see the retailers list items on Google Search, Google Express and Google Assistant and in turn Google will get a cut for every purchase that is made. This is a different arrangement from the one which involves placement of ads.
According to Google the listings will have no impact on regular online search results. Listed items that participate in the program will be featured in the sponsored shopping results. This is expected to assist the retailers in their competition with Amazon. Google is also hoping that the program will assist the retailers in capturing more purchases with voice search which is expected to be e-commerce’s next frontier.
In an interview with Reuters the retail and shopping president at Google, Daniel Alegre, indicated that the initiative came about after observing that there was an overwhelming number of consumers who wanted to know where they could buy certain products based on image searches. According to Alegre searches conducted on mobile devices seeking answers on where to buy certain products had increased by 85%.
Per analysts the default destination for many shoppers after conducting a Google search is Amazon. Google’s new program has been dubbed Shopping Actions and will be available across the retailers to a wide variety of retailers.
“We have taken a fundamentally different approach from the likes of Amazon because we see ourselves as an enabler of retail. We see ourselves as part of a solution for retailers to be able to drive better transactions …,” Alegre toldReuters.
With regards to voice shopping it will be possible for retailers to offer their products via Google Home and thus hold on to customers who may otherwise head to Amazon. For instance someone who is shopping for sneakers by searching on Google will be able to view the listings from a retailer and then add that to Google Express cart on a mobile device. The same shopper can later add more items to the same shopping cart via voice shopping on Google Home.
Early results show that Shopping Actions program has been effective so far. Among the participating retailers there was an increase of 30% in customer’s shopping baskets. Voice shopping is currently dominated by the Echo devices of the online retail giant. By 2022 it is projected that 55% of households in the United States will possess smart voice devices.