Rather than operating a separate marketplace, the Google Shopping platform was extended to include Google Shopping Actions – now known as Buy On Google in the US.
With digital voice assistants becoming gradually more integrated into our daily routines, the new functionality enables consumers to shop and purchase through Google Assistant, as well as Google Shopping and Google Search. In their own words, Google Shopping Actions is “a shopping program that allows retailers to surface their products across different Google platforms”.
Google Shopping Actions serves as a rival to the reigning Amazon, whose monopoly of the universal basket feature has long forced retailers to bend to Amazon’s rules on fees, fulfilment, warehousing, and so on. Rather than warehousing a retailer’s offering, Google invoices the retailer once the purchase is complete, providing greater autonomy for online merchants.
Why should I use Google Shopping Actions?
The platform allows retailers to advertise to larger audiences now that Google Shopping Actions is available on desktop, on mobile using the Google Shopping app, and by voice command on Google devices. Following Amazon’s own success with Alexa, reports find the latter option is becoming an increasingly popular way to shop online: according to Think With Google, over 60% of regular smart speaker users use voice search as a shopping tool.
The universal checkout feature allows the consumer to complete their purchase on any device through Google, making way for an easier shopping experience. For consumers shopping across various retailers, the Google Shopping experience becomes more frictionless, enabling consumers to purchase more items at once and with greater ease.
Google Shopping Actions maintains a pay-per-sale model. This means retailers only pay once the purchase is complete, as opposed to the regular pay-per-click model. As part of this, retailers see no membership fees to advertise on the platform and are able to utilise their own payment provider and customer service and manage more processes, such as returns.
Currently, Google Shopping Actions is only available in the US and France, with reputable retailers including Target, Best Buy and Frys in the US.
Both regions have their own criteria for participating in the Google Shopping Actions or Buy On Google programme – the guidelines to adhere to for retailers in either country can be found in the Merchant Centre.
How to use Google Shopping Actions
To take advantage of Shopping Actions, you must already be set up on Google Shopping in the Merchant Centre. From here, you can manage the Shopping Actions programme, as well as view your inventory data, tax and shipping settings, and download your invoices for a commission paid to Google.
As a merchant, you can view your Retailer Standards rating, which is scored monthly and enables Google to reward or penalise retailers participating in the programme. A poor rating is assigned to retailers advertising out-of-stock items, enacting a high volume of order cancellations, or shipping items late. Doing all of the above may incur an order cap on your account from Google.
On the other hand, Google rewards retailers whose orders meet the criteria (as specified in the Merchant Centre) with a commission discount of 10-20%.
Google Shopping Ads vs Google Shopping Actions
Items sold in the Shopping Actions programme are different from the ad units in Google Shopping: you cannot pay to win more impressions. Instead, Shopping Actions are organic units displayed when Google determines the consumer shows a high purchase intent in the short term.
Unlike the core Google Shopping experience which operates with a pay-per-click model, Google Shopping Actions uses pay-per-sale, meaning Google is not paid from every click.
Unfortunately, Google black boxes click data for Shopping Actions, so merchants must take Google’s word that Shopping Actions provides a greater conversion rate than Shopping Ads can.
It’s not certain when Shopping Actions or Buy on Google will be rolled out to other regions, but we’re very excited at the prospect of this growing “online mall” and the new opportunities it can provide to online retailers.