What is Google Shopping?
Google Shopping is an online platform where people browse & compare products. When sellers feature their items on the Google Merchant Center, they appear in 2 main locations:
- Google Search Results Page (SERP).
- Google Shopping standalone website.
This is the most popular shopping comparison engine worldwide, available in more than 120 countries. People can search & find their desired products to purchase them.
Unlike Amazon, eBay, Shopee, or Lazada, Google Shopping is not an e-commerce marketplace. The main difference is that Google Shopping does not sell any items directly from its site. It only promotes them.
The transaction happens on the merchant platform, for example, the seller’s website. It means the shopper follows the vendor’s regulations, payment methods, customer service, etc.
On Amazon, the deal happens directly on its platform. On Google Shopping, once the user selects the product, a link redirects him to the brand’s website.
Google Shopping Ads
Google Shopping Ads are a way to promote the items listed on the platform. Merchants activate them from their Google Ads account, next to the other types of ads (search, display, video, app).
Since 2020, merchants can list their products for free on Google Shopping. Of course, this is not as efficient as running ads, but it helps increase online visibility.
Google Shopping ads target the bottom of the sales funnel. They are designed to get conversions. Buyers seeing those ads know what they are looking for (product name, brand, location). They are more likely to buy because they have a high purchase intent.
Google Shopping Ads Model
The Google Shopping ads, also called Product Listing Ads (PLA), work following a Cost Per Click (CPC) model. Advertisers pay their bid every time a client clicks on their products. Google receives a commission on every sale, which is a portion of the profit.
Like the other kinds of Google ads, Google Shopping Ads users have access to a dashboard to monitor their campaigns. They can follow up on:
- Click-Through Rate (CTR).
- Return On Investment (ROI).
Google Analytics helps advertisers review closely their campaign metrics & performance. This is a great tool to use in this case.
As Google Shopping Ads target online users with a strong buying intent, they get around a +30% higher conversion rate than the classic Google ads search (text ads).
They are also good at selling products quickly and improving product visibility.
Google Shopping Ads Format
Shopping ads appear at the top of the Google Search Result Page (SERP), above the organic results & paid text ads as well. They display the “Sponsored” label the same as other Google ads.
Google Shopping sources this information from a product feed, which is the merchant’s central hub about its products. This information is updated constantly so Google can always showcase the latest offers.
Once the seller submits the product feed, Google matches those details with people’s queries & ranks those results. It depends on the search terms, the relevance between the ad & the past online activity of the user.
Google Shopping products are visible on 2 separate slots: the tab “All” and the tab “Shopping.” On the first one, online users see a preview of the most relevant items according to Google.
Google Shopping ads include the following components:
- Product image.
- Product name.
- Merchant name.
- Product reviews.
On the “Shopping” tab, people access more items & many filters as well: price, brand, availability, rating, etc. Products appear for free on the shopping tab. This is convenient to compare offers, hours, locations, and inventory.
Google Shopping Reviews
Anyone can write a product review & publish it on the platform. Google bots evaluate them to remove spam or content violating the policies. Once a review is live, it cannot be modified.
The 5-star ratings, along with the total number of reviews, appear on the product pages & search results. As most buyers read those comments, especially the negative ones, they strongly affect sales.
Public scores help buyers make a decision & purchase from merchants. Unlike on Google ads search, where the required grade is 3.5 at least, there is no minimum score to promote on Google Shopping. However, a low score impacts consumers’ trust, and consequently merchants’ sales.
Everybody can review a Google Shopping product, for example, business’ friends… but also people with bad intentions. As a matter of fact, the brand’s competitors are very likely to publish negative reviews about the items.
To get rid of those fake comments, companies must prove they are not based on facts. Prodima Vietnam can help. In case several reviews look suspicious, contact us to get them removed.
Google Shopping Activation & Rules
To list their products, merchants must have a Gmail address & a Google ads account. Then, they can create a Merchant Center account & get it approved by Google. Around 25% of the new accounts get rejected due to violations of Google Shopping policies.
After approval, the merchant lists its items on the product feed which brings the inventory live. At this stage, Google still monitors the images, content, and merchants’ behavior. In case of any suspicious activity, the platform removes the ads & locks the merchant’s account.
People must remember that, unlike e-commerce platforms, Google does not certify that the sites coming up in its searches are genuine. Once a user clicks on a Google Shopping ad, he leaves the platform & enters an independent website under specific rules.
Google has no visibility on the transaction & cannot help much from this point. In consequence, a few issues may happen. We will develop them in the next section.
Google Shopping Scams
In 2018, a Google executive got scammed by a Vietnamese seller. He bought a Bluetooth headset at an incredibly low price… and never received his purchase.
Following this, Google made a full investigation. They dismantled the cluster of scammers & blocked similar suspicious vendor profiles.
Overall, on Google Shopping, merchants scam consumers in 2 main ways:
- By receiving the money & never sending the product.
- By sending a counterfeit product different from the one advertised.
A product that never arrives is the most common scam. It happens to 73% of shoppers who lose money on Google Shopping.
Consumers also find counterfeits & sometimes dangerous goods on Google Shopping. Google is aware of the situation and recognizes this could affect people’s trust in its platform. However, as transactions happen on the merchant’s landing page, Google may not be as diligent as Amazon or eBay to remove those counterfeit products.
4 Pro Tips to Purchase Safely on Google Shopping
The best ways to avoid scams on Google Shopping are to:
- Shop from authoritative websites.
- Beware of low prices.
- Beware of product availability.
- Purchase with a secure payment method.
It is safer to buy products from merchants we have heard of before. In case you want to buy from an unknown seller, do some research on the internet. It is easy to spot scams in a matter of seconds with a simple Google search. Read the reviews too.
Most buyers get scammed because they were attracted by an outstanding offer not available anywhere else on the internet. This is how fraudulent buyers catch people. If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Like the price, scammers often get buyers’ attention by proposing merchandise that is sold out everywhere else. If no other retailer can supply this product except this one, you should consider it twice before sending any money.
Credit cards or popular e-wallets are traceable payment methods. Consumers using them are less likely to lose money because they can dispute a transaction. Debit cards or direct-transfer services do not allow tracking deals. Never go for them, especially if the merchant insists.
3 Steps to Follow When Being Scammed on Google Shopping
In case you face a scammer, act diligently as follows:
- Contact Shopping support.
- Report the fraudulent ad.
- Dispute the transaction with your bank or e-wallet.
Contact Google Shopping to inform them about the situation. This is on a case-by-case basis & there are conditions to meet. Ideally, provide screenshots proving the scam so Google can review them.
Contact your payment provider & explain what happened. Most banks & e-wallets have a service to dispute the charges in case of a proven scam.
Is Google Shopping Safe?
All online retailers should use Google Shopping if there is a demand for their products. In particular, Google Shopping ads work great to sell products. Even if this is not a branding channel, businesses get some visibility for their e-commerce activities.
Like most online retail platforms, there are frauds on Google Shopping. Unfortunately, Google does not take responsibility for those scams because this is not an online marketplace.
To protect themselves, shoppers must follow the 4 hints we shared above. Experience is the best weapon to fight against online cheaters.