Shops may be beginning to reopen, but one thing lockdown has shown us is that the UK population love to browse the internet for their next purchase. With this trend set to continue how is Google for Retail helping retailers reach their next customer?

Google for Retail aims to help retailers reach some of the hundreds of millions of people who carry out shopping-related searches on Google each day. Consumer shopping is rapidly moving towards a more digital experience, with 55% of UK shoppers saying they spend more of their time shopping online than in-store.

Google has eight different properties – including Search, YouTube, Maps and Gmail – which can help retailers create an alternative shop front for their business. We’ve highlighted several key features that Google offers that can help you make your retail campaign a success:

Merchant Centre

Google Merchant Centre is the first step for any advertiser. You can upload your inventory of products to Google and this feed is then eligible to be shown to consumers across the whole portfolio of Google services.

The Merchant Centre is very flexible in terms of functionality. If you have a promotion you want customers to see, this can be applied across either every product on your feed or just to certain items. If you are an international business, multi-country feeds allow you to show your products to the 90 countries where shopping ads are available. The broad range of reports and insights available can help maximise the efficiency of your campaigns and provide actionable business insights based on your product data.

Smart Shopping campaigns

Smart Shopping is a great example of Google harnessing artificial intelligence for the benefit of retailers. They do this by optimising bids and ad placements to target those shoppers that Google deem more likely to buy your products. These adverts appear across all Google Networks including Search, Display, Gmail and YouTube.

The process is simple – a budget, ad assets and country of sale is all that is required. These are then combined with your Merchant Centre product feed to show the most relevant adverts to the right people, helping to drives sales for your business.

Local Inventory ads

The exponential growth of online shopping would initially appear to be bad news for bricks and mortar stores. However, this isn’t the case thanks to Local Inventory ads. Consumers want to be efficient shoppers, searching for what their nearby stores have in stock before visiting them. Local Inventory allows retailers to show consumers exactly what is in each of their local stores, creating a virtual storefront that will drive footfall to your physical locations.

According to Google, searches for “shopping near me” have grown three times in the past two years. This is partly down to the growth of virtual assistance platforms like Google Assistant, and Local Inventory allows you to highlight in-stock products to nearby shoppers who are carrying out voice searches, a channel that is set to become even more prominent in retailers’ marketing strategies.

Consideration of key monthly sales opportunities

From Valentine’s Day to Father’s Day to Halloween, there are numerous opportunities throughout the calendar year that retail advertisers should be taking advantage of. For example, according to Google Trends data, we are seeing double digit growth year on year for search terms such as ‘unique Mother’s Day gifts’ and ‘Black Friday bargains’.

It is also important to know when these search terms begin. For example, in 2019 the term ‘Easter gifts for adults’ started seeing search data a full 14 weeks before the actual holiday. Awareness of what shoppers are searching for and when is key to online success. Aligning this with Google’s retail offering – from a comprehensive Merchant Centre to running Smart Shopping campaigns and Local Inventory ads – will provide retailers with a solid base from which to improve their online ROI.

If you are interested in exploring Google for Retail to help maximise you retail campaigns don’t hesitate to contact one of our team.

Ewan Maynard, Senior PPC Specialist