Google Shopping: retail therapy for your web sales
If you have an online store, and you’re not utilising Google Shopping (previously known as Product Listing Ads or PLAs), you are missing a valuable source of sales leads.
This is especially true for merchants of well-known brands and products where it can be difficult to stand out from the hundreds of other sites selling the same goods.
Google Shopping explained
When an online shopper searches for a brand and/or product, Google shows products for sale that match the shopper’s search at the top of the search results. The reason this works so well is that if a prospect is looking for Nike Air Pegasus Size 10 Blue, or uses the product number, you can be pretty certain they have made up their mind what they are looking for, and you just need to get your ad in front of them.
The Shopping works just like AdWords etc in that it’s a Pay Per Click (PPC) model, so it suits higher priced items to get Return On Investment, because you’re not going to convert every click to a sale. If you have lower priced items but most customers order many of them, or usually add more products, or the lifetime value of the customer is worth a lot more, these factors can all have a bearing on what you consider ROI.
Let’s take the search for “Nike air Pegasus size 10 blue”, the results look like this…
The steps to get your products on Google Shopping
Firstly, you’ll need to tell Google what your products, prices, stock levels and shipping costs are. This involves creating a product feed (like a .csv export/import or .xml feed) to send Google Shopping updates on a regular basis. This is usually sent once or twice per day depending on the fluctuations in price and availability. Google has stringent rules you need to adhere to in order to approve your products, which is why it’s important to use qualified developers and Google Shopping certified professionals (experts at implementing automated feeds that update with your website’s stock levels for most eCommerce systems).
The items must be in stock, available to purchase on your website and shipping costs need to match those on your site. You can even specify which products use which shipping method (eg Toll, TNT, Australia Post) or you can set the freight rules to match your website. Google is smart enough to audit all these things, and not conforming correctly will see your products de-listed.
The items must also have an SKU in order to be recognised as a valid branded product (eg all Nike Air Pegasus Size 10 shoes in Blue would have the same SKU). If you don’t have known brands with known SKUs that’s not an issue, we can work around that, however you can’t just “make them up”. Again, Google is pretty smart when it comes to that kind of thing.
What does it cost to set up Google Shopping?
Depending on what eCommerce system you use, it can be as simple as clicking a few buttons. The biggest cost is usually ensuring the integrity of the data is sound with all the matching SKUs and other items mentioned above. You need to be confident that this product feed is sending the right data, updating whenever the website is updated and that you have the ability to change this feed to add custom fields so you can get return.
What does it cost per click?
The actual ad budget spend hugely depends on the type of products you sell and only an expert can make an educated guess as to whether you will be able to attain ROI. Generally, the cost per click will be higher for higher priced items and lower for lower priced items.
Advanced Features within Google Shopping
Feeds can be tailored to send through custom fields to Google and then within Google you can set rules based on these fields. For example, you may wish to send a field to say a product is on sale. Then within your advertising set a rule that any item on sale has a 20% higher bid. This will result in more visibility for the on sale items.