Google Shopping will be a game-changer for Indian e-commerce: Nishant Singh Didawat
Guest Column: Nishant Singh Didawat, Business Head - Media, Social Kinnect tells us more about Google's new Shopping page and how it will change e-commerce game in India
Published - 17-December-2018
Just when you thought that 2018 will go down in history as a year of controversies around data security, PII and SPI - Google just made a massive announcement!
Here’s what has happened – “Google has unveiled Google Shopping, a dedicated search engine intended to provide an immersive and improved online shopping experience. Along with finding products, Google Shopping allows users to filter through offers and review prices across multiple retailers. The shopping homepage is a dedicated made-to-browse page where shoppers can search for products across several categories and choose between thousands of retailers. Also, for retailers, Google will offer its 'Merchant Center' in Hindi, which will allow the sellers to list their products for Google Shopping, without paying for ad campaigns.”
To understand what this means, let’s observe how things change with this launch.
I searched for “Blue Nike Shoes” on the Search Results Page as well as on the new shopping tab to notice the difference.
Immediate observations from a consumer’s perspective:
1. There are almost twice as many products appearing as results, above the fold.
2. We now get bigger and clearer product images in search results.
3. One can see the number of reviews and ratings as well in some cases.
4. In my opinion, it’s brilliant how the price points are now mentioned in big and bold, followed by the seller brand and before the name of actual product. That’s typically the sequence majority of Indians follow in the shopping cycle.
5. The desktop version provides filters like Price, Brand, Seller, Department, etc. The mobile version doesn’t at this point. I’m sure this will get added soon.
6. Again, the desktop version provides the ability to sort by price and ratings; the mobile version doesn’t, yet.
7. As you scroll below the fold, there are more products. I saw 40 shoes appear on desktop and 20 on mobile.
8. On mobile, as you scroll below the fold, we are presented with some more filter options (not sure if that’s where you want your filters to be). There’s also a functionality to shop by store along the last ribbon that talks about “People also search for”.
To summarise, it’s a very neat looking results page, devoid of wordy text ads, site links, structured snippets, call out extension, location extensions, call extensions, UAC Ads and organic search results. Without a doubt, it’s a great way to facilitate online shopping for the Indian audience.
It’s also an amazing opportunity for small and medium sized advertisers
While driving performance marketing for my clientele of SMB e-tailers, I observed a growing concern regarding ad-visibility of shopping ads; since most of the auctions were dominated by the large aggregators and brands (Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, AJIO, Koovs), leaving the SMBs with hardly any impression share. They were, largely, limited to relying on precise long-tail search queries for any results from shopping ads. And even when they received clicks, they were too expensive to justify RoAS. This led to a lot of SMBs signing up on the Amazon and Flipkart. Of course that has its own pros and cons.
Now, with more products on the results page and assuming correspondingly cheaper auctions, I’m sure they’ll be back in the game. Given that now on a product page click, one can see price-points across all shops, by saving on commissions charged by aggregators SMBs will get more visitors.
However, with a bigger product listing size comes more responsibility. Brands will have to be more invested than ever before in ensuring that product feeds are enriched thoroughly, product names and descriptions are written keeping search behaviour in mind, Google product categories are detailed and accurate, key product attributes are added and reviews and ratings (these are the most ignored assets in my opinion) are encouraged on their websites. Significant investment needs to be made in ensuring that the product images stand out in the clutter.
Agencies will need to sharpen their Knowledge of Google Shopping
It’s very clear that this development will lead to more advertisers coming on board Google’s merchant centre, thus leading to larger e-commerce clientele for digital marketing agencies. While not displaying today, I believe it’s only a matter of time (probably around H2-19) before ad space is opened up on this page resulting in some intense auctions. In parallel, I believe betas will be rolled around smart shopping campaigns, their audiences and campaign objectives. Knowledge around feed implementation, integration, enrichment and performance marketing will be key to success.
And finally, it’s going to give Google a greater control over e-commerce in India.
Already, Google’s shopping ads account for over 60% retailers’ search ad spending. Google’s previous move to drive consumers to click on Google Shopping ads by increasing ad space has clearly worked, so much so that they decided to make a dedicated page for it. According to an IBEF report, India’s E-commerce revenue is expected to jump from US$ 39 billion in 2017 to US$ 120 billion in 2020, growing at an annual rate of 51 per cent, the highest in the world. So the timing couldn’t be better.
There’s so much more to this development. There was an increasing shift in audience behaviour towards making an Amazon or a Flipkart, the de-facto search engine for many categories under e-commerce. Google was getting increasingly bypassed here. Now with details like ratings, price points, reviews, etc., it’ll re-instate its position. With more results on the shopping page, I bet this could lead to a reduction in the share of traffic going to the aggregators leading to impact in that eco-system. Like I highlighted previously, SMBs will be back on Google shopping.
Talking about Google’s competitors, clearly Facebook/Instagram Dynamic Product Ads have been driving high RoAS over the years. These ads don’t limit visibility due to heavy competition, are bottom-of-the-funnel focussed and consist of larger ad-units leading to an overall better user experience. Now with Google’s product units becoming equally large themselves, I bet it’ll provide an incremental CTRs and RoAS.
Most significantly from Google’s revenue perspective, as soon as this space gets monetized, it’ll lead to a humungous jump in revenue for Google. Just think about it; now there are 20 products appearing as search results instead of 2 (on mobile). In H2 2019, the YOY growth in revenue from shopping might just increase at a higher rate than revenue from YouTube. Yes, I know how much a YouTube mast head will cost in 2019
(Nishant Singh Didawat is Business Head - Media, Social Kinnect)
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com