Can Google become a legit alternative to Amazon for sellers (and buyers)?
Google over the last year has been shifting to build an “Anti-Amazon of E-Commerce” for sellers, according to a New York Times profile. The obvious hurdle for Google, however, is Amazon.com’s stature as the go-to online search engine for shoppers.
Fifty three percent of U.S. adults begin product searches at Amazon when planning to make an online purchase, according to an August 2020 survey from ChannelAdvisor. Following far behind were search engines (Google, Bing, etc.), 23 percent; brand/retailer websites, 16 percent; and other marketplaces (eBay, Walmart, etc.), eight percent.
Google fared better when it came to holiday purchases. Asked where they intend to research for holiday gifts, Amazon was cited by 65 percent; Google, 45 percent; retailer/brand website, 35 percent; and other marketplace, 25 percent.
The search engine and technology giant has taken a number of steps over the last year to support third-party sellers. These include:
- Allowing merchants to list their products on Google Shopping for free versus pay-per-click;
- Eliminating commission fees for sellers for purchases made directly through Google Shopping versus commissions ranging from five to 15 percent;
- Opening up its selling platform to third-party selling tools, including Shopify and PayPal. Using preferred services for activities such as inventory, order management and payment processing is designed to ease the onboarding process.
One ongoing benefit seen in selling through Google is that customers are sent directly to a merchant’s website, enabling direct connections with customers.
Google’s moves are expected to significantly increase the amount of merchandise available across its selling platform to the benefit of buyers. Google Shopping had about 3,700 merchants at the end of 2019 versus three million active sellers on Amazon.com, according to Marketplace Pulse.
Smaller sellers have increasingly voiced complaints that Amazon is squeezing them for more fees. Many are also believed to be looking for alternatives to Amazon as the pandemic has increased its dominance, which now includes a formidable advertising platform.
Bill Ready, a former PayPal executive who is overseeing the overhaul of Google’s shopping platform, told the Times, “Nobody wants to live in a world where there is only one place to buy something, and retailers don’t want to be dependent on gatekeepers.”
- Where do US consumers begin their product searches? – eMarketer
- Google Aims to Be the Anti-Amazon of E-Commerce. It Has a Long Way to Go. – The New York Times
- Will free listings elevate Google Shopping? – RetailWire
- Google breaks into mobile video shopping – RetailWire
- Will axing commission fees entice Amazon sellers to move to Google Shopping? – RetailWire
- Marketplaces Year in Review 2019 – Marketplace Pulse
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is the bigger challenge for Google’s shopping platform attracting sellers or shoppers? What would an ideal Amazon alternative look like to sellers?