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article imageGoogle to let retailers sell products through search

By James Walker     Mar 20, 2018 in Technology
Google has announced a new push into online commerce with an initiative that will allow retailers to directly list products inside search. The company is teaming up with major brands to launch "Shopping Actions," available across search and Assistant.
Shopping Actions
Google's plans were first revealed in a Reuters report this week before being confirmed by the company today. In a blog post, Google said it wants to offer "relevant, meaningful, and immediate assistance" to consumers buying products online. It noted that searches for "where to buy" grew by 85 percent over the past year.
Retailers can now use Google's platforms to directly engage with consumers. Stores that register for Search Actions will have their product catalogues indexed by Google. When users search for products, the listings created by the retailers will show above regular search results and advertisements. If the consumer clicks on the listing, Google will receive a cut of the resulting sales.
Google Shopping Actions
Google Shopping Actions
Google
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The initiative is separate from Google's existing advertising platforms. The company is directly pitching the service to retailers as a way in which they can engage with consumers while they're still searching for products. It could allow retailers to better compete with giant online marketplaces such as Amazon. Google's also optimistic that Shopping Actions will encourage consumer uptake of new commerce platforms, such as the burgeoning voice shopping market.
"It's clear that people want helpful, personal, and frictionless interactions that allow them to shop wherever and however they want -- from making decisions on what to buy, to building baskets, to checking out more quickly than ever before. Put simply, they want an easier way to get their shopping tasks done," said Google.
"That's why we're introducing our Shopping Actions program. It gives customers an easy way to shop your products on the Google Assistant and Search with a universal cart, whether they're on mobile, desktop or even a Google Home device."
Direct connections
Shopping Actions is a clear sign of Google's frustration with the way in which consumers shop online. Although purchases normally start with a Google search, they typically end with a platform such as Amazon. The company wants to progress online shopping by facilitating more direct connections between customers and retailers. The initiative could also increase awareness of Google's shopping services and its voice-controlled Assistant.
Speaking to Reuters, Google said it sees itself as "an enabler of retail" that lets retailers get "closer to the consumer." However, the company's decision to directly surface products could lead to further antitrust investigations against it. European authorities are already concerned that Google has too much of an influence in online commerce, with regulators last year fining the company €2.4 billion for violating antitrust rules.
Shopping Actions are available now to retailers in the U.S. Companies including Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Costco and Ulta are already using the service. Links will appear inside search results from today, across Google's mobile, desktop and voice platforms.
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