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Google’s new Shopping Actions Program Helps Retailers Fight Amazon

Recent consumer demands have prompted a race for the most seamless shopping experience and retailers left and right are struggling to keep up. In the lead is ecommerce behemoth, Amazon, who currently dominates share value across marketplaces, but could Google be a better option for retailers?

A 2017 study also revealed that while Google was once the preferred place for product search, 52% of shoppers now prefer Amazon as opposed to search engines at 26% (Raymond James Research).

Google’s recently unveiled Shopping Actions program, however, has provided a leg-up for participating retailers in the fight to compete.

The program gives customers an intuitive, frictionless way to shop across Google Search, Google Express and Google Assistant which features in their voice activated speaker, Google Home. The program will now be able to provide features such as:

  • Sharable shopping lists
  • Universal shopping carts
  • Instant checkout
  • Saved payment credentials

Customer loyalty is promised with 1 click re-ordering (surfacing products right when a customer is due to need more), personalised recommendations and basket building.

Reaping these benefits are retailers like Walmart, Costco, 1-800 Flowers and Ulta Beauty who have already seen increases in order value, total conversions and an 30% increase in average basket size. Google also partnered with MasterCard to conduct a study with five Shopping Actions merchants and found that customers spent more over a four-month (post) period.

The announcement gave special attention to voice search, acknowledging that over 44% of consumers use virtual assistants to order essential products (Google/Peerless Insights). While Google has the advantage of their search capabilities and numerous accounts (calendars, maps, reminders etc.), Amazon still claims a large market share in virtual assistants.

Consumers cannot use Google Home to shop at Amazon; a retaliation perhaps to the fact that you cannot use the Amazon Echo to shop at Walmart or the thriving US marketplace,, acquired by Walmart in 2016. The Echo, or “Alexa” is also able to offer Amazon branded products for less ahead of others, which hinders retailers in this shift to voice search. The Google Assistant voice feature of Shopping Actions is, as a result, very good news for retailers who are struggling to keep up with Amazon.

Alongside Shopping Actions, the rise in voice search, with 50% of searches predicted to be voiced by 2020 (ComScore), means a few things for retailers. Firstly, retailers will have to begin tailoring their product content to suit voice search by adding longer phrases such as “where to buy…”. Secondly, Google are using a pay-per-sale model, meaning retailers “only pay when a sale actually takes place” (AdWords, Google), rather than the traditional pay-per-click model where retailers pay to place ads on Google. This means that Google can subtly monetise voice search without irritating consumers.

Does this mean, however, that Google could overtake Amazon’s leading share value? The Street counts this as unlikely given the services Amazon provide and the scale at which they operate. Google, nevertheless, with their partnerships and resources, has become a worthy competitor on a marketplace front and a great alternative for retailers who are in direct competition with Amazon.

Partnering with Amazon may be beneficial for brands; they pay a commission and take advantage of the marketplace’s vast benefits, but retailers that do not manufacture their own products are in direct competition. A partnership on these grounds could result in Amazon buying directly from the brands they stock at a lower price, then selling them quicker and cheaper than the retailer.

Google’s Shopping Actions might ultimately provide retailers a better option than Amazon and increases customer conversion rates by enhancing product discovery across Google platforms.

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