In January we published our 2017 Holiday Discoveries Report highlighting, among other things, emerging retail trends that caught our eye during the holiday season. One such trend was the use of Google Express as a transactional engine to support purchases across Google properties from Google.com, to voice assistants, to Google’s chatbots. We believed this to be Google’s answer to Amazon’s growing online dominance. Adding to this, late last year it was reported that Walmart, Target and Home Depot were expanding their relationship with Google Express to potentially compete with Amazon. Many, including us, were wondering what these partnerships looked like and how Google Express was going to evolve. Google’s latest announcement provides some answers to the questions we posed in our report.
Since 57% of all Smart Speaker owners have shopped for an item using voice, Google’s response to consumers’ rising usage of voice-activated speakers is the Google Shopping Actions program for retailers. According to Google’s announcement on their AdWords blog, Shopping Actions “gives customers an easy way to shop your products on the Google Assistant and Search with a universal cart, whether they’re on mobile, desktop or even a Google Home device.”
By 2022, experts believe half of all Americans will be using a Smart Speaker to shop. Leading retailers have been chomping at the bit to gain brand visibility on these devices and Google has now provided a path to do just that. By joining Google’s Shopping Actions program a retailer’s products will gain visibility among consumers who voice shop for relevant items using Google Assistant (the term “Google Assistant” applies to Google’s voice services offered on their Smart Speaker devices, Google smartphones, and searches on Google via desktop). Consumers who shop via Google Assistant will be able to access their shopping cart across all Google Assistant properties, allowing them to seamlessly checkout with saved payment credentials. This is Google’s solution for the frictionless shopper who shops across devices and expects a unified experience throughout.
Our 2017 Holiday Report also emphasized how important it will be for retailers to participate in Google Express (now folded up under Google Shopping Actions) and to snag the premier suggestion spot. At the time, we weren’t exactly sure how Google was going to allocate the premier spot but this announcement seems to suggest that the top spot will be awarded to the retailer who has partnered with Google in the Shopping Actions program. We expect that estimated conversion rate to sale (boosted by competitive pricing) will also play a role in who, among participating retailers, will win the top spot. Once the customer (who has opted-in to allow Google and the retailer to share her loyalty program information) uses Google Assistant to search, Google will suggest the retailer’s products above other retailers.
Google will also suggest items that the shopper may wish to reorder to net more sales for the brand and simplify the order process for the shopper. Here’s Google’s example: When a customer searches for makeup brushes, Google’s top suggestion will be for makeup brushes that a Shopping Actions participating retailer sells. Google may also suggest a makeup remover from that retailer based upon loyalty program history.
By participating in Shopping Actions, retailers have the potential to grow their AOV (Average Order Value). A pre/post study conducted by Google and MasterCard showed that shoppers spent more money with participating retailers (vs. non-participating retailers) in the four months the study was live. Google also claims that basket size for participating retailers grew an average of 30%. Retailers participating in Shopping Actions will pay only when a sale actually takes place—which makes the conversion cost optimal, too.
What do you think of Google’s new announcement? If you’re a retailer, are you considering participating in Shopping Actions? Let us know in the comments below.