Google’s product search offering is undergoing changes. Those listings that are unpaid or organic, ones preferred by the Google algorithm, will gain more traction and visibility in the search engine results. The search engine giant will be allowing, merchants in the United States to list their products for free in Google Shopping Search results. Google Shopping Free version can be looked at as Google’s way to help the struggling retailers amid the Coronavirus pandemic crisis.
Post COVID-19 crisis, the scenario may change significantly, creating a paradigm shift in the way people shop, with most likely fewer people preferring regular brick and mortar department stores. The pandemic has forced majority of the consumers to depend on online shopping. This trend and behaviour are likely to continue, even after the crisis.
The free listings feature in the Google Shopping search results will complete by the end of April. At first, U.S. will be the beneficiary of this new feature deployment — but Google, reportedly, plans to roll out this change globally before this year end.
Though, on the outside, this looks like a great gesture of support to the merchants having trouble selling their products during this pandemic crisis, there is more to it than meets the eye. This is a great opportunity for Google to strategically shift more attention towards the e-commerce market and ecosystem, which is ripe with huge potential for growth, amid the COVID-19 spike in e-commerce world over.
But Amazon, the e-commerce giant, is even more benefited by the current scenario, reigning as the unrivalled platform for online shopping. It is even growing as an ad platform, slowly becoming an immediate threat and competitor to Google. For quite some time Google has been trying out various things to enhance its shopping experience and this recent change, bringing the free product listings in Google Shopping clearly betrays its intentions to tap into the market.
So, what does the change have in store for retailers and shoppers? For Retailers, its more obvious, as it means gaining more visibility to millions of potential shoppers out there, online worldwide, who search in Google for their shopping needs. For shoppers, the change can help cater to their needs better, with more products from various stores, previously not visible, becomes discoverable through Google Shopping Tab.
These changes do not mean that the paid product listings slotted into the top of Google search results will change. So, the tech giant is not entirely looking to part with its product ad revenue. Google Shopping can be looked as a product that has tremendous potential to take on Amazon, but that would require competing with Amazon on multiple fronts. The more logical approach might be to retain maximum number of shopping search users and advertisers, which is Google’s strong area. Only time will tell how things pan out.