Last week, Google announced that it would begin charging for its Google Shopping service. This provoked many reactions from the industry and also a great deal of criticism of the decision. However, the fact is that Google will make changes to its shopping service in the USA as early as August and companies will need to start to prepare themselves for it. The switchover will start to to take place in Europe during 2013, so there’s not long to start getting ready.
What does this mean for online retailers?
Over the past few years, Google Shopping (formerly known as Froogle or Google Product Search) has established itself as a free source of traffic for many online retailers. Similar to a price comparison site, Google enables you to upload your products to a feed, which will cause them to appear in the product search. However, the key attraction up until now was that the clicks to the shop were free. Recently, the so-called Shopping OneBox has been increasingly integrated into the organic search results, meaning that the participating shops have gained significantly more visitors. Participating retailers are now going to have to consider whether participating in Google Shopping will continue to be worthwhile for them.
It is expected that online retailers will no longer be able to simply use Google Shopping on a casual basis. Google Shopping can continue to be a profitable marketing channel for shops, but it will need continuous optimisation! Similar to Google Adwords, the cost per click (CPC) will be derived from various factors which will now, more than ever, need to be optimised by the shop.
Unfortunately, you can no longer simply let it run and take whatever comes your way. Online retailers are now urged to keep measuring whether participating in Google Shopping is worthwhile for them. Experience with Adwords optimisation will prove valuable, as the shopping search will soon be controlled using Adwords.
We will soon see what it will eventually look like and what optimisation tips can be gained.