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Suppose you are an owner of one of the many small shops and businesses across India – and there are millions of them – that have been hit very hard by the pandemic. In that case, you have probably already been taking a detailed look at e-commerce solutions.
Correctly so, India’s online retail market is ripe for massive growth. Last year, internet-based sales rose by 7-8 percent, and with the number of non-English speaking shoppers expected to rise to anything between 350 to 500 million by 2025, it can only grow bigger.
One of the best ways to enter this field is via Google Shopping, which offers easy and cost-effective solutions for the SME sector. Google Shopping has been operational in India since late 2018 and is available in Hindi, Gujarati, Telugu, and many other local Indian languages. Little wonder then that the small and medium business sector on Google Shopping has reported a 30% rise in hits since the launch.
Google Shopping offers many advantages
By far, the biggest plus point for Google Shopping is its strategic location at the very heart of the largest global online search engine (Google has a 90% share of the market).
Add to that the close link between online searches and shopping (51% of shoppers use Google Search to research a product before purchasing online or in-store). It becomes clear why Google Shopping has the edge over many of its competitors.
The fact that Google Shopping does not take any percentage of a sale as a commission and currently provides services at no cost strengthens this competitive advantage.
In recent years, the platform has introduced a revamped interface and enhanced user experience. Results are displayed with images and information side by side (unlike the text-only format in normal search), facilitating visual recognition of a product and instant comparison of product and price.
Reviews are another useful tool that has been added. There are also several simple online guides, FAQs, and even direct support to help one through the initial process and enhance an online presence, visibility, and hit ratio.
It’s easy to get started with Google Shopping!
Let’s suppose Entrepreneur ‘A’, a manufacturer-retailer, wants to list products on Google Shopping. Here’s how to go about it:
- Register your Account: First, one has to visit the Google Merchant Centre and register using an existing Google account or email id. For those who don’t have one already to create it on the spot. To complete registration of the merchant account, ‘A’ will also have to provide details of the business and contact info, plus verify that these are correct.
- Create your online catalog: ‘A’ will have to get the material for an online catalog ready. Good clean pictures of the product (a single front shot or multiple views from different sides and angles depending on its nature) in an optimum size are essential. Upload these along with product and price information.
Note: If ‘A’ already has a catalog on any other online shopping portal, one can sync it directly with Google Shopping.
- Select a Fulfilment Option: Three different modes can be made available to the buyer: purchase Google Shopping, get redirected to A’s website or any other online portal where ‘A’ already has a presence.
Add-ons that can boost your product’s visibility on Google
‘A’ can further choose to join online advertising and shopping campaigns. These will enhance the product’s visibility even further, though they come at a cost.
Here is a brief overview of the possibilities:
- Innovative Shopping Campaigns: For this one will need to have a Google Ads account and link it to the Merchant Centre account and product data. Using the data provided and based on the choices made, Google will display ads across a range of Google Surfaces.
- Search Ads: Using this option, one can create simple text ads to promote a product and define the target audience. Google will automatically match the two and selectively display the ads when a target consumer searches with the given keywords. Payment is based on the actual number of clicks on the link.
- Local Inventory Ads: These are variants of the Search ads that enable one to target customers in a particular geography and promote the products on their feeds.
- Shopping Campaigns with Partners: This is a valuable option for brands and shops that stock their goods and helps the brand promote the partner and drive sales for mutual benefit.
Search powers sales in multiple ways
Based on the choices ‘A’ makes while opting for add-ons to his/her merchant account, the products are displayed in multiple ways to a consumer. Since Shopping is integrated across different search tools of Google, or what the company calls Surfaces, there is every chance that a product will show up not just in Shopping, but also in a normal search, as well as in Google Images and possibly even in YouTube (if one has uploaded relevant videos, that is!).
As search technology has developed, you can explore other options to improve visibility and boost sales. There are multiple ways of doing this, such as opting for personalisation based on a customer’s search history, providing for store and product level searches, using auto-complete and preview options for quicker and more directed engagement, etc.
A savvy entrepreneur engaged in e-commerce (irrespective of the size of the enterprise) can benefit enormously from the use of the rapidly evolving new technological solutions that are available today.