Google introduces ‘Shopping Actions’ to help retailers in their battle with Amazon

Google announced this morning a new plan to help retailers take on Amazon – and give Google a cut of their sales in the process. The search giant will allow retailers to list their products across Google Search, in its Google Express shopping service, and in the Google Assistant app for smartphones and on smart speakers, like the Google Home.

The program offers online shoppers a universal cart whether they’re shopping on mobile, desktop or via a voice-powered device. That latter item is especially important to retailers, given that Amazon has tied voice shopping to its Echo devices, and has claimed the majority of market share in smart speakers for the time being. And you aren’t able to shop Walmart from an Echo, of course.

Google is working with a range of top retailers on the new effort, including Target, Walmart, Ulta Beauty, Costco, and Home Depot. Some of these were detailed in the company’s official announcement of Shopping Actions, as the program is called. A report from Reuters noted the others.

Walmart and Target were both already partnered with Google on voice-based shopping, which includes integrations with Google Express and Google Assistant. This allows customers to shop their site through the Google Express app or by saying things like “buy peanut butter from Walmart,” to place a quick voice order with Google Assistant’s help.

Those partnerships, and the new program being introduced today, also allows retailers to increase shopper loyalty by supporting things like 1-click re-ordering, personalized recommendations, and basket-building, says Google. For example, if a customer integrates their Ultamate Rewards account (Ulta’s loyalty program) with Google, it will know what other products to recommend based on past order history when the shopper is searching for a particular item.

Google says it will use a pay-per-sale model, which means it’s only taking a cut of the sale when a shopper makes a purchase. That’s different from Google’s pay-per-click ads, where businesses pay when a web searcher engages with an ad by visiting the website or calling the business.

According to Google, retail partners saw the average size of a customer’s shopping basket increase by 30 percent after joining the program, and Ulta saw average order values increase 35 percent. Target, which has been live for 6 months, says its Google Express shopping baskets increased nearly 20 percent, on average.

The program is live now in the U.S. and open to any retailer.



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