Whether you sell homewares, appliances or anything in between, Google Shopping should be a key part of your digital marketing strategy. Not only is it useful for driving brand awareness, it can also be instrumental in outperforming your competitors. By listing your products on this platform, you can increase your company’s exposure, helping to drive traffic to your business and increase sales growth.
But if you think Google Shopping is only for eCommerce businesses, think again. Research has shown, time and time again, that when it comes to making large purchases, consumers are far more likely to conduct online research before committing to buy. This suggests that in order for bricks and mortar businesses to stay competitive, they need to have an online presence too.
Big Aussie brands have already started jumping on the Google Shopping bandwagon, including large furniture retailer Fantastic Furniture. Discover how emulating their omni-channel experience can lead to increased revenue for your business.
What is Google Shopping?
Google Shopping was launched in 2010, replacing Google Product Search. Ads appear in three main places: at the top of the search engine results when a user searches for a product; within the Shopping section on Google; and within the Images section.
While the platform shares similarities with Google Ads, such as the ability to create campaigns and set bids, it also shares a lot of similarities with SEO. With Google Ads, you get to choose the keywords your campaigns are focused on. With Google Shopping, however, it’s Google that chooses what keywords your products appear for – just like with SEO.
With this in mind, it’s important you optimise well. Make sure your product pages have the appropriate image annotations, valuable page copy, and the price listed prominently. Google Shopping will look at all of this, and your bids, before determining when and where to display your ads.
Given that an eCommerce site should already be following SEO best practices, the benefits of Google Shopping are quite clear – and the risks to bricks and mortar businesses who aren’t on the platform even more so. If you can search for a new bed or sofa on Google and have a list of all the companies selling them – with pictures, prices and reviews readily available – all before you even leave Google, why would you go anywhere else?
Taking Advantage of the Sales Funnel
You’re probably already familiar with the sales funnel, but for those who aren’t, it refers to the buying process that companies lead their potential customers through. It’s divided into several phases, with different marketing tactics used for each. Depending on the type of product, there can be as many as seven phases within the sales funnel, and how the customer moves through them is not always linear.
The three main phases we’re focusing on are:
- Awareness – The customer becomes aware of a product or service
- Evaluation – The customer researches and compares their options
- Decision – The customer makes a decision and completes their purchase
How quickly the customer moves through the sales funnel depends on a number of factors, including the cost of the product, the ease in which they can complete the purchase, and their individual buying persona.
Google Shopping is a valuable tool when it comes to nudging customers through the sales funnel. Not only does it help with the awareness phase, the ability to compare other companies and read reviews makes it useful for the evaluation phase as well. This is especially valuable for bricks and mortar businesses, as approximately 82% of smartphone users consult their phones on purchases they are about to make in store.
You wouldn’t buy something before first asking your smartphone, right?!
An Omni-Channel Experience
The days of in-store browsing are becoming few and far between. Each year, foot traffic figures for shopping malls and homemaker centres continue to decline, with online shopping increasingly becoming the norm.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Australia is one of the only countries where retailers with physical locations are actually more popular than online-only stores. According to KPMG, approximately 44% of Australians buy from a retailer’s online store in comparison to 33% globally. If bricks and mortar businesses can leverage this, they can create an omni-channel experience for their customers, allowing customers to conduct research or make purchases either online or in-store, and switch between the methods seamlessly.
Fantastic Furniture were late to realising its omni-channel vision. It wasn’t until May 2015 that their ecommerce site became nationally available; but since its implementation, their site traffic has increased by over 100%, contributing significantly to their overall revenue.
How Does Google Shopping Help?
We know that Google Shopping performs better than traditional text-based ads. We also know it allows bricks and mortar stores to be in the same results as their online-only competitors, levelling the playing field. With the right optimisation practices, it can also ensure they get in front of more targeted customers, helping to increase sales.
But how can it drive foot traffic to the physical store? There are two key factors to consider.
Local Inventory Ads
Local inventory ads bridge the gap between online shopping and the “real” world. Similar to an SEO location page, they appear when a customer types a phrase into Google such as “cheap sofas in Melbourne” or “bed frames near me”. A type of Google Shopping ad that connects to Google My Business, it will display information such as opening hours, store proximity, contact details, as well as price and inventory for the product being searched.
Instead of the sale being made online, Google’s end goal for this service is for the customer to visit the store. Given 80% of customers are less inclined to visit a store if they don’t know whether the product that they’re searching for is in stock, this is an invaluable tool for bricks and mortar businesses. By implementing local inventory ads on Google Shopping, you can significantly increase the number of customers willing to make the visit to your location.
Click and Collect
Click and collect allows customers to buy a product online and pick it up from one of the company’s stores. This puts the power into their hands and gives them confidence that they won’t miss delivery; something that is particularly important for furniture purchases where they would otherwise have to wait at home. It also adds a level of convenience that customers need to jump to the decision phase of the sales funnel. By incorporating it with your Google Shopping ads, you can have customers moving straight from awareness to decision right away.
Best of all, click and collect gives customers an opportunity to walk through your store on the way to collection, potentially leading to additional purchases during their visit. Fantastic Furniture offers click and collect within 60 minutes of an online purchase being completed if the product is in stock, which is a market-leading speed for the service and doing wonders for their foot traffic.
Convenience for your customers = conversions for you.
Stay in Focus
According to Australia Post, homeware shoppers often benefit from an in-store experience, where they can see and touch the product. This is arguably because homewares are typically more emotive purchases in comparison to other products. Customers want to sit on the couch, test its comfort, and picture it in their living room. This is why bricks and mortar homewares businesses still have an edge over their online-only counterparts.
But with how quickly online shopping is becoming the norm, and how many online-only furniture stores offer free trials of their products, it’s important that physical retailers stay competitive in a digital landscape.
By including Google Shopping in your digital marketing strategy like Fantastic Furniture and other homewares brands, you can stay in focus when customers are in the awareness or evaluation phases of the sales funnel – even as they’re walking through your store.