Since 2012, retailers and merchants have had to pay Google Shopping to list their products. Listing products was viewed as a form of advertising. Due to this, many merchants chose to use and pay for standard Google Search ads, or they utilized various other third-party sellers like eBay and Amazon Marketplace, as opposed to using the Google platform. Google Shopping has grown over the last 20 years as another option, as opposed to ecommerce behemoths Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart, for retailers to directly list website links and let users search for products and match pricing.
Today, (pardon the pun) changes are in store!
Google Shopping is now allowing any company that sells products online to list their inventory…for free. Bill Ready, president of commerce at Google, recently told The Verge,
“What we’re seeing is that they are many, many retailers and small businesses that stand ready to serve shoppers, but don’t yet have a great way to connect with them digitally. We think that by doing this, it helps many more shoppers find what they’re looking for, but it also helps bring some quite needed relief to the retail and small business ecosystem.”
While still charging online retailers for top placement on promoted listings, Google will now let any business that operates a website or one that manages a store on a marketplace platform to list products without having to pay for it.
With the current COVID-19 pandemic restricting and, in many cases, shutting down brick and mortar stores, this announcement will most likely make Google Shopping a great alternative. The Commerce Department recently reported that total U.S. online and offline retail sales, along with food and beverage spending, decreased by 8.7% in March, and will almost assuredly decrease even more in April as local governments have mandated closures and barred in person shopping and spending through May 1 (and later in many states). With some retailers not yet fully operational online, this decrease in sales highlights the importance of a robust ecommerce presence for any merchant.
Google Shopping announced that the new free listing service will go into effect in the United States on April 27, followed by a worldwide roll out over the next few months. This is exciting news for retailers and a great way to hopefully lessen the negative impact on sales that so many businesses have experienced.
Also, please note that existing customers that were paying to promote a partial list of their products are now able to list their entire inventories on the platform. For any new merchants, they can now apply to place their listings for free through the Google Merchant Center.