Whether you sell homewares, appliances, or anything in between, Google Shopping should be a key part of your digital marketing strategy. Not only is it useful for driving brand awareness, but it can also be instrumental in outperforming your competitors. By listing your products on this platform, you can increase your company’s exposure, helping to drive traffic to your business and increase sales growth.
But if you think Google Shopping is only for eCommerce businesses, think again. Research has shown, time and time again, that when it comes to making large purchases, consumers are far more likely to conduct online research before committing to buy. This suggests that for brick and mortar businesses to stay competitive, they need to have an online presence too.
Big American brands have already started jumping on the Google Shopping bandwagon. Discover how emulating their omnichannel experience can lead to increased revenue for your business.
WHAT IS GOOGLE SHOPPING?
Google Shopping was launched in 2010, replacing Google Product Search. Ads appear in three main places: at the top of the search engine results when a user searches for a product; within the Shopping section on Google; and within the Images section.
While the platform shares similarities with Google Ads, such as the ability to create campaigns and set bids, it also shares a lot of similarities with SEO. With Google Ads, you get to choose the keywords your campaigns are focused on. With Google Shopping, however, it’s Google that chooses what keywords your products appear for – just like with SEO.
With this in mind, it’s important you optimize well. Make sure your product pages have the appropriate image annotations, valuable page copy, and the price listed prominently. Google Shopping will look at all of this, and your bids, before determining when and where to display your ads.
Given that an eCommerce site should already be following SEO best practices, the benefits of Google Shopping are quite clear – and the risks to bricks and mortar businesses who aren’t on the platform even more so. If you can search for a new bed or sofa on Google and have a list of all the companies selling them – with pictures, prices, and reviews readily available – all before you even leave Google, why would you go anywhere else?
Taking Advantage of the Sales Funnel
You’re probably already familiar with the sales funnel, but for those who aren’t, it refers to the buying process that companies lead their potential customers through. It’s divided into several phases, with different marketing tactics used for each. Depending on the type of product, there can be as many as seven phases within the sales funnel, and how the customer moves through them is not always linear.
The three main phases we’re focusing on are:
- Awareness – The customer becomes aware of a product or service
- Evaluation – The customer researches and compares their options
- Decision – The customer makes a decision and completes their purchase
How quickly the customer moves through the sales funnel depends on several factors, including the cost of the product, the ease in which they can complete the purchase, and their individual buying persona.
Google Shopping is a valuable tool when it comes to nudging customers through the sales funnel. Not only does it help with the awareness phase, but the ability to compare other companies and read reviews makes it useful for the evaluation phase as well. This is especially valuable for brick-and-mortar businesses, as approximately 82% of smartphone users consult their phones on purchases they are about to make in-store.
You wouldn’t buy something before first asking your smartphone, right?!
An Omni-Channel Experience
The days of in-store browsing are becoming few and far between. Each year, foot traffic figures for shopping malls and homemaker centers continue to decline, with online shopping increasingly becoming the norm.
But it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom if brick-and-mortar businesses can create an omnichannel experience for their customers, allowing them to conduct research or make purchases either online or in-store, and switch between the methods seamlessly.
HOW DOES GOOGLE SHOPPING HELP?
We know that Google Shopping performs better than traditional text-based ads. We also know it allows bricks and mortar stores to be in the same results as their online-only competitors, leveling the playing field. With the right optimization practices, it can also ensure they get in front of more targeted customers, helping to increase sales.
But how can it drive foot traffic to the physical store? There are two key factors to consider.
Local Inventory Ads
Local inventory ads bridge the gap between online shopping and the “real” world. Similar to an SEO location page, they appear when a customer types a phrase into Google such as “cheap sofas in Huston” or “bed frames near me”. A type of Google Shopping ad that connects to Google My Business, will display information such as opening hours, store proximity, contact details, as well as price and inventory for the product being searched.
Instead of the sale being made online, Google’s end goal for this service is for the customer to visit the store. Given 80% of customers are less inclined to visit a store if they don’t know whether the product that they’re searching for is in stock, this is an invaluable tool for bricks and mortar businesses. By implementing local inventory ads on Google Shopping, you can significantly increase the number of customers willing to make the visit to your location.
Click and Collect
Click and collect allows customers to buy a product online and pick it up from one of the company’s stores. This puts the power into their hands and gives them confidence that they won’t miss delivery; something that is particularly important for furniture purchases where they would otherwise have to wait at home. It also adds a level of convenience that customers need to jump to the decision phase of the sales funnel. By incorporating it with your Google Shopping ads, you can have customers moving straight from awareness to decision right away.
Best of all, click and collect allows customers to walk through your store on the way to collection, potentially leading to additional purchases during their visit.
Convenience for your customers = conversions for you.
Stay in Focus
Homeware shoppers often benefit from an in-store experience, where they can see and touch the product. This is arguable because homewares are typically more emotive purchases in comparison to other products. Customers want to sit on the couch, test its comfort, and picture it in their living room. This is why bricks and mortar homewares businesses still have an edge over their online-only counterparts.
But with how quickly online shopping is becoming the norm, and how many online-only furniture stores offer free trials of their products, physical retailers must stay competitive in a digital landscape.
By including Google Shopping in your digital marketing strategies like some big brands, you can stay in focus when customers are in the awareness or evaluation phases of the sales funnel – even as they’re walking through your store.