Google Takes On Amazon with New Product Search Program
The search giant is teaming up with traditional retailers to boost their products within shopping queries (and take a cut of the sales along the way).
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Amazon has disrupted the retail world in unimaginable ways. Current estimates ballpark that there are more than 90 million Prime members in the U.S. alone and Prime Day has officially eclipsed Black Friday as the single biggest retail sales day of the year.
Google, whose parent company, Alphabet, is neck-in-neck with Amazon based on price per share, is making a play for its own piece of the e-commerce action with a new program, called “Shopping Actions,” designed to boost retailers’ product results in its engine.
The key difference: Google claims that it wants to “enable” retailers, not disrupt them, as has been the clear case with Amazon.
Per a Reuters report, Google is inviting retailers to list their products across Google Search, Google Express (a shopping tool), and Google Assistant to capture consumer demand at the moment they are seeking out a specific type of product. The ability to position products within Google’s voice search is a direct swipe at Amazon’s Alexa offering.
Instead of asking retailers to proactively pay for the ad real estate, Google will take a cut of sales made, similar to how sellers operate within Amazon’s own marketplace.
The new program effectively turns Google into a searchable product database, much like Amazon, wherein sellers (in this case, major retailers) can reach consumers to drive consideration at key moments. According to a Google spokesperson, over the past two years, mobile searches asking, “Where can I buy this?” increased by 85 percent.
Retailers currently partnering with Google notably include two of Amazon’s biggest rivals in the retail space, Target and Walmart, as well as Home Depot, Costco, and Ulta Beauty.
With signs of the so-called “retail apocalypse” proliferating, the update could help traditional retailers reach and convert shoppers as more and more people turn to the internet to discover and purchase products.
Per the data below, brick and mortar store closings have surpassed openings as of 2017 (chart via Bloomberg).
The announcement piggybacks the recent moves by Walmart and Target to prioritize their products within Google Home searches. While voice is still an emerging frontier for brands, there’s no doubt that major retailers need to form partnerships in order to compete with Amazon’s own Alexa offering. Rather than build their own technologies, Google has emerged as a friendly partner able to help them square off against Amazon.
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