Google Shopping makes price comparisons easier

Source: Google
Oct 26, 2020

Google Shopping has introduced a number of price comparison and tracking tools to help shoppers find holiday deals.

The comparison tools enable online shoppers to quickly see whether the price offered for an item is “high, low or typical” compared to others across the web and in nearby stores.

Shoppers search for an item on Google, switch over to the Shopping tab and select their favorite item to see its “price insights” across a number of websites and stores. Details include the price being charged before and after taxes and delivery fees.

For instance, a recent search for Fleetwood Mac’s LP “Rumours,” which just returned to Billboard’s Top 10 album chart after 43 years due to a viral TikTok video, showed the vinyl record available from more than 25 stores and websites, including local options. Among majors, the best price came from Best Buy at $23.99. Target and Urban Outfitters offered similar pricing but the net cost rose was over $30 after taxes and delivery charges.

Google’s comparison tools can also display whether the item is in-stock at a nearby store or if free shipping is available over an order threshold, as well as estimated delivery times and curbside and in-store pickup availability.

The price tracker tool enables shoppers to receive alerts for price drops on any products they’re considering.

At the same time, Google introduced new tools for sellers to maximize promotions, including faster average approval times and streamlined editing features that can make it easier for a brand to extend a promotion or participate in a flash sale. Products on promotion are being extended across free listings and ads in the Shopping tab, Google Images (mobile-only) and local inventory ads on search. Google is also enhancing related performance metrics.

In a blog entry, Bill Ready, president, Commerce at Google, said Google’s Holiday Shopping Study that found 40 percent of global shoppers last year used Google to find the best deal, and holiday offers this year are arriving earlier than ever. Mr. Ready wrote, “As more people are already shopping online for the holidays, retailers will have to adapt quickly to be ready for this consumer demand.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are Google’s price comparison and tracking tools more of a sales benefit or margin risk for retailers? Do the changes improve Google Shopping’s value as a sales medium?

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"This service gives Google excellent insight into individuals' buying habits in exchange for deals on products."

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11 Comments on "Google Shopping makes price comparisons easier"

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Shep Hyken

Certain customers are more loyal to the brand than they are to low prices. That doesn’t mean a brand can charge a much higher price. They still must remain competitive, hence the range of “typical” price might not scare a customer away to a retailer with “low” price.” Still, certain retailers with higher prices will prevail when the experience they create trumps price sensitivity. At least that’s how it has played out in the past. The Google price comparison tool could cause commoditization in an industry that, at least for some retailers, is trying to push its CX and service as a way to disrupt being caught in the commodity (price) trap.

Michael La Kier

Convenience and “good enough” pricing rules the day with online shopping. This is the reason about half of online shopping trips start on Amazon. The majority of shoppers value ease of shopping first (and last). For more price-conscious shoppers these changes will help improve Google Shopping’s value as a sales medium. For retailers, the Google “enhancements” are another margin-reducing pressure (as if they needed another).

Gene Detroyer

I am surprised it has taken this long. Price comparison sites for hotels, airlines, and cars have been around a long time.

For the shopper it is a great service. Who wants to go from site to site to figure out where the better price is? Amazon’s success is based on going to one website for ease and convenience. This negates that to a degree.

Those retailers with sharp pencils will not face margin risk and they may attract shoppers who never thought about them before.

I just tried an item and found a retailer I never heard of, Swanson Health. They are rated with five stars with over 1,000 reviews. That must be good for Swanson Health. And their price was inline.

Katie Hotze
2 years 3 months ago

The value in online shopping is rooted in identifying the most optimal price and delivery combination. Leveraging Google as a high-value path-to-purchase mechanism for busy shoppers looking for the best deal is a huge win for capturing digital holiday shopping traffic.

Gary Sankary

I seem to have to remind myself from time to time that Google is an advertising platform first and foremost. This service gives Google excellent insight into individuals’ buying habits in exchange for deals on products. Back in the Dark Ages my mother would open the Sunday paper, put all the grocery ads on the table and make her list by store, cherry picking deals. This is the same service, via an app, with an important difference, the consumer is leaving a trail behind of what they look at. For Google that’s the Holy Grail.

Ken Lonyai

Any retailer/brand that focuses its offering on the slippery slope of lowest price can expect this tool to be a detriment to profitability.

Even massive sellers with expansive buying power feel the pinch on profits when lowest price thinking drives their decision-making over value and customer experience driven loyalty. The smartest approach to “gaming” this tool is to very carefully choose what items can act as loss leaders to attract shoppers and then skillfully encourage them to include secondary items with better profitability. Else, Google will be the only real winner.

Casey Golden
2 years 3 months ago

Bad habits are hard to break. Comparison tools are convenient but also drive prices down instead of value up. Sounds like another recipe for a race to the bottom.

Peter Charness

It does call into question retailers who go to extraordinary lengths to set zone-based pricing, pricing differences within a radius of competitor stores and a myriad of techniques that frankly no longer matter when an in-store shopper can scan/check and all pricing is compared to the best online values. I don’t agree that this will create a race to the bottom, but I think it will start to create a normality for everyday consistent pricing — particularly when scarcer supply means promotions aren’t needed to maximize sales.

Kim DeCarlis

Price comparisons are a double-edged sword for retailers, whether they come from Google or another provider. While they can incent a quick purchase, they also disrupt the online shopper’s path to purchase on your site by offering comparisons for the same or similar items from vendors on another site. In real life, this would be the equivalent of a shopper in big box store A being shown a better price for the item at big box store B and being physically pulled away: it would never happen!

Research firm Aberdeen estimates that between 13% to 20% of all online shoppers currently have web browser extensions installed; sometimes they are installed knowingly by the consumer, but they often ride along with other extensions. Retailers need to pay close attention to signs that unwanted comparisons are happening — including high abandonment rates — and consider solutions to stop disruptive comparisons from compromising their shopper experience and eroding their business.

Ricardo Belmar

Google is increasing the value of their search as a shopping tool for consumers. The benefit for retailers is less obvious. While this might bring a shopper to a new retailer based on price and/or proximity to their location, it may end up encouraging a race to the bottom based purely on price in certain product categories. Google continues to be a double-edged sword for retailers in that they look to add value for consumers first and then struggle to show similar value to retailers. This is an example where the benefit to retailers is questionable vs. consumers. Google needs to look for new ones to embrace retailers into their platforms and tools while still providing convenience to consumers. That’s what has made Amazon such a powerful search tool for most shoppers versus starting their journey on Google.

Karen Wong

As Ricardo Belmar mentioned, price comparisons can be a double-edged sword, as deal chasing is an easy way to commoditization. That being said, Google local inventory ads based on shopper proximity are a particularly powerful tool for retailers, especially for those that serve markets less prone to price sensitivity. We have a direct integration so we’re familiar with the positive benefit to independent retailers looking to target nearby shoppers.

Personally, e-commerce price comparison is built-in to the experience so the Google extension makes sense. But for physical retail, it’s unusual for competitive retailers within a local area to not be aware of each other’s general pricing. If we’re looking at it from a LIA-perspective, if the shopper is looking to shop locally or needs something immediately, the value is in the stock visibility, less so the price.

"This service gives Google excellent insight into individuals' buying habits in exchange for deals on products."

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