Launched in 2002, Google Shopping initially existed as a rudimentary service offering website links activated by product searches. Years later, they rebranded the system and made it easier for users to navigate in efforts to compete with other major platforms like Amazon. Around the same time, revenues began to rise for online retailers during the pandemic; in fact, this was true for retail overall with global market researchers reporting total US retail sales reaching a record high of $4.3 trillion for 2021.

With the advent of free Google ad listings in 2020, other retailers were provided with an economical way to compete in the eCommerce realm. The new dynamic allowed both B2B and B2C companies to connect with massive target audiences without product listing fees, while Google continued to generate additional revenue through charging for promotions and ads. 

Google Shopping vs. Amazon 

Today, Google Shopping is outranked only by eCommerce rival Amazon. 

Paid ads are placed at the top and bottom of Google search pages, while ‘unpaid organic results’ appear in the center. The choice to list free products in Google Shopping appears for merchants, next to options for purchasing paid ads. Customized suggestions appear, founded on personalized data, and product pages are curated showing a variety of relevant items. What is really effective, however, is the concise information surrounding each product itself, with a specific listing. Beyond having everything at their fingertips, B2C and B2B shoppers can see all their options in one simple glance–whether they are concerned with models available, prices, reviews, shipping prices, colors available, or other details.

“Google revealed that e-commerce advertising was a leading contributor to a 43% bump to search revenue in 2021,” states Bloomberg data. “Google also said last year that over a billion people shop on its properties every day, though it hasn’t updated the figure. In the fall, Morgan Stanley research showed that consumers were using Google and YouTube to research products and price-shop more often than they used Amazon, EBay or Walmart. In April, the bank reported that 59% of survey respondents who are Amazon Prime members said they started researching products on Google, up from 50% in the fall.”

Encompassing both shopping as well as advertising, Google Shopping continues to attempt to create a competitive niche outside the Amazon marketplace, carving out a new eCommerce strategy also meant to enhance their ad sales. The Google Shopping platform allows customers to complete the entire process on their platform in many cases–from ongoing research to making a purchase and setting up payment and delivery.  

Google Shopping is necessary for B2C businesses interested in expanding access to buyers, offering an outlet for customers to search thousands of shops listing millions of products, research features, prices, and then compare prices and vendors before they make a purchase. As for getting started, it’s hard to imagine a more simple process. Becoming a seller entails entering basic information at the Merchant Center, website verification, and then moving forward to add products or form a product feed. Apps are also available to manage products in the Google shopping ecosystem. From there, the B2C eCommerce foundation is set.

Google Shopping for B2B

B2B companies can benefit from a powerful platform that brings higher traffic to their websites and landing pages, reaching businesses already shopping on Google. The platform supports B2B companies by providing robust tools for enhancing the sales funnel in marketing on an expanded platform–and one that easily translates into increased eCommerce and subsequent revenue. Product information can also be mirrored from their website, including images and details about products that translate nicely whether users are at their desktops or relying on mobile apps.

As an extension of the broad global search engine users are so familiar with, the Google Shopping platform is naturally inviting and easy to use, and unlimited in terms of geography–allowing users to search for and view products anywhere in the world. While the platform is a logical focus for B2C, that translates to a necessary focus for the B2B segment too, albeit slightly more complex.

Providing a platform for paid ads that can directly target other businesses, Google Shopping is a powerful B2B tool; in fact, advertising on Google Shopping is an extremely effective way to connect with B2B customers who may be purchasing a wide range of products. 

Other benefits include:

  • Enhancing the number (and quality) of leads from businesses driven to commercial websites. 
  • Higher click-through rates from one of the most secure platforms available.
  • The ability to create more effective marketing and ad campaigns targeting relevant companies.
  • Access to precise analytics, measuring success in B2B sales conversions.

Running Google Shopping for B2B means not only running ads that are relevant to that group of consumers but also using more specific keywords (not surprisingly, many may contain the word ‘business’), and studying the target base, too. This means applying first-party data knowledge to learn about their search habits–along with gaining the competitive edge by drawing back in customers who may not have responded or made purchases in a while. 

Considering the value that B2C parties find in Google Shopping, it only makes sense that B2B customers will desire the same level of detailed product information and ease in making purchases.

Google Shopping Best Practices

  • Be prepared to set up an account, including Google Analytics, and a link to Google Ads.
  • Set up a primary product feed for the Merchant Center, with a daily schedule updating data regarding costs and available inventory.
  • Consider pricing carefully, including minimum orders, bulk and discount orders, and taxes and shipping costs, too.
  • Target an audience that exhibits spending behaviors aligned with Google Shopping.
  • Employ typical marketing strategies like researching first-party data, using relevant keywords in content.
  • Drive customers to your website and an effective landing page with clear information outlined here too regarding accurate pricing, taxes and shipping (insurance and handling if necessary), and extremely clear return policies.

Google Shopping APIs and Catalog Management

For companies providing both B2B and B2C, Google Shopping provides a powerful tool for increasing both the bottom line and the customer base; however, there may be challenges in setting it up.

Issues with the way data is pulled into a feed are common. While one of the greatest benefits in using Google Shopping is the ability to offer a large inventory of products without fees, it may also be the cause of numerous complications. Initially, the process begins by creating an account and then organizing products and related details for use in the B2B or B2C data feed, or with the content API. 

If  businesses are dealing with large product catalogs (handled by the exporting process), their systems may take too long in delivering generated files to users. In these cases, the solution is to deal with extraction limitations via two different routes:

  • Scheduling the catalog cache to run overnight, generating a local catalog cache in the middleware’s database for fast access.
  • Setting up file generation to run on demand, delivering generated files (consumed by the Google system) to users.

Product information gaps and inaccuracies are another source of potential problems. The key is to check the local cache, and make sure it is consistently updated. From there, a scheduled process should be updating the local cache daily.

Large enterprises may also run into problems unless they account for global shoppers. This means expanding systems for an array of languages as well as other currencies. Google also offers tools for optimizing your feed, whether for setting up currency conversions, automatic item updates, removing delay features, improving images, and more.

About the Author

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Sarah Falcon

VP, Marketing Global

Sarah is a nimble and creative marketing leader with 15 years of experience in a mix of agencies, B2B, and B2C enterprises. She brings a background in building and driving impactful marketing practices and processes for growing businesses. Sarah has expertise in brand, content marketing, lead generation, and marketing operations. She’s a co-author of the 2019 book on B2B eCommerce Digital Branch Secrets: eCommerce Playbook for Distributors.

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