This is a question almost every small business or e-commerce owner will have moving forward online. I’ve been quoted on my overall dis-satisfaction on many other sites throughout the net on the “new Google Shopping” and it’s effects on users, small business and the general state of retailing online since it’s inception.
So let’s take a look here at the pros and the cons on whether or not Google Shopping is worth your hard earned advertising dollars that can so easily be lit up in flames by using the search giant’s monopoly on product search.
Google Shopping Pros For Small Business
– You can play with the big boys!
Many times you don’t have the e-commerce SEO budget that a fortune 500 company has. So inherently many of your product listing pages and design may not be up to snuff of what they are doing, so more often because of this many smaller e-commerce sites will not rank on the first few pages for a consumer searched product. Therefore now Google Shopping and Product Search enable you to have a fighting chance to show your similar products to the masses giving you some face.
– Google Shopping Shoppers are More Likely to Make an Immediate Purchase
There have been a slew of studies done that searches online being done through shopping engines or price comparison networks have a higher “trigger rate”, meaning that many of the times the potential comparison shoppers are in a state of making a “buying decision”, therefore these visitors are usually on Google Shopping looking to make an immediate buying decision on the sites they are referred to from the product searches.
Well, that really it for the Pros. Let us now take a look at the CONS of Google Product Searches.
– You are forced to give Google all your data on your product. Which technically they previously offered up to your competitors to see what exactly you are selling, how much you are selling it for and other sensitive data that you worked hard to populate your site with, all so that Google can “use your info” to enhance “their version of user experience”.
This basically means if you were first to market a product, and then you put it on Google Shopping, then they have all of your data on it. Which also in turn makes it easier for any potential competitors in your retail space to find these “niche products” and then copycat your pricing structure or even source the product for themselves basically fully arming them with everything they need to do it!
– Product Listings Aren’t Unique & Diluted by Immense Competition
As we all know, competition is healthy, but too much competition just kills a retail space. I have fell victim to this myself with a few different product lines. Especially if you are drop shipping a product, and 40+ retailers are carrying the item, then the guy who is making a whole nickel will most likely win the sale. And after expensive charge per click bidding rates, why in the world would you want to even be in that game? The overall ad cost, and amount of browsers just put you into a negative profit margin. And forget about “winning the customer for the long run”, it doesn’t work because dedicated and loyal customers don’t exist anymore and there are about 40 plus other vendors ready to sell for a dime over their cost to them as well.
– Google Shopping Policies are Too Strict & They Make Up Their Own Rules on a Whim
So if you enjoy the increased conversions of being on Google Shopping, and you grow your business based on the increase in sales, then you better make sure you “jump” when they say “jump, because you can easily get suspended and all your products taken down off Google Shopping with just one bad crawl. From experience, with a multiple feeds (some with over 50K products on each feed) they have been known to just suspend entire paying accounts because of a “Google Shopping Violation”. The worst part is that their customer support staff has no real control and they just “escalate to a Google Shopping team member” which is some guy they outsourced to give you cut and paste responses.
I’ve had products like toy costume swords be classified as weapons, and UPCs for older products not in their system classified as “Incorrect Product Identifier” just to suspend my account and make hours of phone calls to their non-helping customer service to tell you that you have to re-upload a corrected feed. Not to mention if you have real time inventory and then the Google Shopping Spider comes through and sees your product as “out of stock” even though maybe 6+ hours ago your feed was uploaded as in stock.
Google Shopping service members love to use the excuse “user experience” but the reality is that they are making a bad experience for you the advertiser and realistically real-time inventory updates are actually to benefit the potential web shopper, but this is a “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t ” scenario since we obviously don’t want to show something in stock to someone that isn’t. As personally I feel that I’d be happier to pay a CPC charge to get someone to my e-commerce retail website showing a out of stock product, and potentially sell them something else, rather than have them cancel an order a out-of-stock product because Google Shopping spiders actually wanted old data instead of the new.
– Google Product Shopping Charge Per Click Fraud
This is an age old topic that is as mysterious as Jimmy Hoffa himself. Your competitors can “click on your shopping ads” but Google’s answer is that they have an anonymous fraud detection system in place to recoup this. Which honestly is a crock, and not remotely transparent or verifiable especially even more so now with “SSL Search”.
So again, you are probably asking yourself the question whether or not is Google Shopping worth it?
And the answer is truly within your business products, model and potential profits. Shopping definitely has it’s plus side since internet browsers are visual beasts and putting your products at first page reach is great , but it definitely comes with a slew of negatives that really just hinder many businesses at this point. As I had mentioned in other discussions, that I feel Google has destroyed internet retail for many types of smaller businesses for just some of these reasons alone (amongst many others that aren’t as front facing as these) .
So if you want to advertise on Google Shopping then I suggest you do extensive research on your market, competitors and even your suppliers. Then when confident enough you can get the correct error free version of a ever changing Google Shopping feed for your website with the right products for online retail success.
Well, until they change their rules again anyways.