In effort to stimulate growth in the retail sector during the coronavirus pandemic, Google is making it free for all merchants to sell items in its Shopping tab.
Tuesday, April 21, Google said it is advancing its plans to make it free for merchants to sell on Google. While the listing of products on Google Shopping list is set to become free, businesses may still have to pay Google if they wish to promote their listings.
In a blog post, Bill Ready, Google President, said that starting next week all search results in the Shopping section will consist mostly of free product listings whether a seller advertises it or not on its platform.
“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,” Ready said in The Verge. “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,” he added.
These changes will take effect in the US before the end of April, Google said, adding that it aims to expand this before the end of the year.
For retailers, this change means free exposure to millions of people who come to Google for their shopping needs. For shoppers, it means more products from more stores, discoverable through the Google Shopping tab.
“If you’re an existing user of Merchant Center and Shopping Ads, you don’t have to do anything to take advantage of the free listings, and for new users of Merchant Center, we’ll continue working to streamline the onboarding process over the coming weeks and months,” Ready said.
Google is also partnering with PayPal to help bring more merchants onto the platform faster by letting them link existing accounts for accepting online payments. Google is also working with e-commerce inventory management companies like Shopify to ensure companies that operate mostly through their own website can quickly shift to selling on Google Shopping.
Google Shopping, as an integrated part of the company’s search engine, has been around for nearly two decades. But in 2012, Google Shopping required merchants to pay the company to list products as a form of advertising, leading to fewer companies opting to use the platform instead of simply running standard Google Search ads or using other third-party sellers like Amazon Marketplace and eBay.
The new initiative should make Google Shopping more accessible at a time when the retail sector has faced many threats, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.