What Are Google Shopping Actions?

October 5, 2018

Brands By Link Walls

Since it launched earlier this year, Google Shopping Actions has received a lot of attention across the industry. And it makes sense. When one of the biggest players in the e-commerce world makes a big move, everyone sits up and pays attention.

In short, Shopping Actions serves as a transactional layer for Google users. It’s designed to capture and retain consumers by letting them shop for products whenever and however they want — on mobile, desktop or Google Home.

For retailers and brands, it allows them to surface inventory via Search, Google Express and the Google Assistant while providing a universal cart and seamless shopping experience.

It’s an exciting new program and one any brand or retailer should seriously consider using. But despite the significant impact a new channel like this can have on e-commerce, some sellers are taking a “wait and see” approach. We think this is one of those programs that competitive brands and retailers can’t afford to watch unfold from the sidelines.

How you approach Google Shopping Actions probably depends on your business perspective. Chances are, you fall into one of two camps: leveraging the program as a growth opportunity or as risk mitigation. There’s a case to be made for both.

Whichever business approach you take, here’s a breakdown of why you should consider Google Shopping Actions immediately.  

Google Shopping Actions as a growth opportunity

You’re a competitor in a highly competitive industry. Shopping Actions represents the latest program you can leverage to reach a large subset of new buyers. In this case, you’ll reach these potential new customers on Google Express.

After all, this is Google we’re talking about. Google Express is a new marketplace from the same company with seven different properties with over 1 billion monthly users each. Clearly the audience potential is enormous.  

For those sellers who haven’t advertised on Google before, the opportunity to tap into this audience on a pay-for-performance (revenue) basis is a significant and unprecedented opportunity.

Target more of the buying funnel

Google Shopping Actions can also help you ultimately reach consumers across more of the buying funnel.

While Google has historically been a popular destination for research, Shopping Actions helps place transactional capabilities in front of buyers at the same time they are shopping. Google is essentially streamlining the path to purchase, and it will most likely see more late-stage searches and purchases from consumers in the months and years to come.

Google Shopping Actions as risk mitigation

The other angle for retailers and brands to consider is using Google Shopping Actions as a risk mitigation strategy. This strategy is especially important for retailers that are heavy spenders on Google Shopping ads (formerly known as Product Listing Ads, or PLAs) and are counting on this traffic to funnel to their website. We can’t predict how heavily Google will promote Express listings on its search results page, but we already see examples of those listings proliferating in search results.

This trend has the potential to significantly increase. Do you want to be shut out from the Google results page if Google Express listings take up more space?

In the same way that water will always find its level, Google will ultimately create and promote the user experience that results in the most conversions. So if consumers find the experience of Google Express superior, more traffic will likely get routed that way.  

At ChannelAdvisor, we’ve always stressed the importance of being everywhere — minimizing your risk in a changing industry by maximizing your online presence. This is no different. As a retailer or brand, you should aspire to have your product offerings in front of consumers, wherever and however they choose to shop.

The evolution of Google results

For what it’s worth, here’s a little context: Over the last several years, Google has consistently shifted traffic away from text ads to Shopping ads (or PLAs). As a result, these Shopping ads have seen steady year-over-year growth, while the growth of text ads has largely remained flat. The advertisers who didn’t participate in Google Shopping campaigns (or, for some reason, still don’t) missed the growth wave and have been put at a significant disadvantage.

We see the same trend coming — only this time, it’s Google Shopping (PLAs) shifting to Google Express listings (via Shopping Actions). While we wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a zero-sum game, each click (and ultimate conversion) on Google Express is one that previously would have likely gone to a Shopping ad.

Approaching Google Shopping Actions

One of the benefits of Shopping Actions is that you don’t have to sell all of your products through this program. Try thinking about your product assortment first and determine your strategy.

It’s important to evaluate your catalog and decide which products to continue selling only through your website. Some items may have extensive customizations or configurations, as opposed to more straightforward detail (think: laptop vs. a monitor).  

Evaluate your conversion rates by product category and consider starting where your conversion rates (particularly on mobile) aren’t very good. These products may be your best candidates for the Shopping Actions program.

Shopping Actions could very well represent the future of Google-based shopping. Is it something you want to take a “wait and see” approach to? Is it something you can even afford to miss? Probably not. And with the business model based on commision fees rather than clicks, you’re not putting yourself at as much financial risk. That’s a business approach anyone can agree on.

If you’d like to speak to one of our e-commerce consultants about Shopping Actions or how you can get started today, fill out this quick form, and we’ll be in touch soon. Want to hear directly from Google about how to leverage the new program this holiday season? Check out a webinar we hosted with them in August as part of our Holiday E-Commerce Strategy Series.

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