Doing E-Commerce Right with Google
How Online Shopping Has Evolved
In the 1990s, there was a lot of debate (and confusion) about how best to monetize the nascent internet. Everyone knew it could be an insanely profitable engine—but nobody knew exactly how to make that happen. Some suggested subscription costs, others ad revenue, some said make it free and don’t worry about it – the internet is a passing fad and it won’t ever be necessary to bother.
Of course, only one of those was wrong.
Now, we can make money on the internet in myriad ways including subscriptions and paywalls, ad revenues, direct selling, drop shipping and e-commerce sites like Amazon and eBay – the latter which grew steadily in the late 90s to become an online marketplace powerhouses. The integration of the secure socket layer (SSL) meant online transactions were much safer than before, and the reality of online or electronic commerce (e-commerce) was born.
Cut to now: we’re able to sell things across platforms, reach more people with online ads, use retargeting to show those ads to more likely customers, use Pixels and urchin tracking modules (UTM) to find more users and keep showing them interesting ads and generally provide seamless, safe, highly convenient online retail experiences around the entire world.
Not too shabby for a two-decade-old industry.
During the early 2000s, ads became the dominant form of online revenue generation for platforms with a previously-murky business model. Whereas eBay made money off of facilitating transactions between buyers and sellers—a multisided platform—Amazon made money by being the Everything Store, with a long-tail of products, stock time and cheap (or free) shipping. Google became powered by ad revenues, as did Facebook and YouTube. Across all platforms, ads and e-commerce provide the revenue backbone that made Web 2.0 the biggest industry in the world.
Through all of this, one thing has remained consistent: Google’s incredible growth.
While Search has always been a popular online endeavor, search engines had struggled to make the act profitable. Google found a way by pioneering pay-per-click (PPC) ads alongside facilitated e-commerce and online search result ads. The outcome has been the explosive growth of a new e-commerce industry built around retail and ads to connect customers and sellers like never before. Gone are the days of simply hoping to find what you want online and facilitating a transaction with a random stranger across the world—the internet now provides seamless, integrated shopping experiences for every possible need, with Google being the dominant facilitator of this new world.
Google’s E-Commerce Domination
Google hasn’t always been the online retail leader, but it’s earned its place there by its sheer number of applications, ad platforms and features for marketers and companies looking to break through and get noticed. From Ads to Shopping to video, Google has been the undisputed leader in this space for many years.
Google Shopping, for example, is a way to see products, services, and features advertised in a useable interface. The goal is to pair users and potential customers with the products they seek in the simplest, most efficient way possible. Google Shopping supports ads across the spectrum, from Video 360 to the new 3D modeling ads unveiled at this year’s Marketing Live Keynote. Shopping is also now cleanly integrated with Google’s new MUM algorithm and multisearch features to provide shoppers with a Search interface like never before.
While Google is an extremely efficient and profitable way to make money via advertising—Google itself says that marketers make $8 for every $1 spent on Google Ads—it isn’t only the simple features that count. Google Merchant Center, e-commerce and dashboard features for ads and retargeting, along with affinity audience building, is a key component of any online marketing effort.
Part of the attraction to Google’s e-commerce platform is its integration with other common website plugins and systems. Shopify, for instance, has a Google channel that automatically syncs your products and relevant information about your Shopify store with the Google Merchant Center. This means you can edit and update products and listings directly from your Shopify admin dashboard. You can also create Google Smart Shopping campaigns with Shopify, and connect your Google Ads account so it’s an all-in-one service to reach more people and provide them with a seamless checkout experience.
If you’re selling from WooCommerce, you can also use an extension like WooCommerce Google Product Feed to create graphic product ads that show up at the top of the search results feed. If you’ve ever searched for products on Google Search, you’re virtually guaranteed to have seen these sponsored ads show up on your feed. Google Shopping ads are relatively easy to make and can be dynamic, vibrant and attract clicks and users.
- An image
- A price
- The products showing up in more places on SERPs
- Equivalent cost per click as a non-brand search campaign
Google Shopping also has integrated functionality with Big Commerce, similarly allowing you to manage and create ads and manage digital assets from a single dashboard. This means your listings are always up to date and can be edited with ease and updated across all platforms. Nobody wants to provide inaccurate product information to their potential customers, and simple Google Shopping functionality with e-commerce applications means information isn’t lost and accuracy is maintained.
For marketers and companies looking to break into e-commerce or enhance their brand and earning power online, and especially those using disparate plugins and dashboards, Google Shopping can provide a seamless, easy to use widget that helps you manage many revenue and data streams while staying flexible. For those trying to break into the online commerce space, this can be an incredible boon, helping you stay competitive without breaking the bank (or giving you a massive headache as you try to figure out what you’re doing and what’s happening).
Google’s e-commerce features, as highlighted in their 2022 keynote, will only continue to get better as they evolve. For companies looking to expand their online revenues, paying attention to the wealth of advertising and product listing flexibility is key to staying relevant and competitive. If done right, this feature can absolutely take a business from a garage to the stock exchange.
Just look at Google itself.