Google’s new ecommerce chief lays out ambitious plan to win in online shopping


Google introduced new features and an expanded partnership with Shopify aimed at capturing a larger share of a growing e-commerce business in the face of growing Amazon success to gain a greater share of the search market by shoppers in line.

Bill Ready, Google’s president of commerce and payments, announced the expanded partnership at the company’s I / O developer conference on Tuesday as part of a plan to “democratize” online shopping. Shopify shares rose more than 3% after the announcement. Google slipped about 1%.

“When it comes to purchasing, what we’re really trying to develop and support is a free and open commerce ecosystem,” says Ready. Forbes. “It’s really important for consumers to have a choice, and especially for small and medium-sized businesses, to be able to participate in the rise of digital commerce as well.”

At the heart of Ready’s strategy is the reintroduction of free ads – which it introduced in April 2020 – on the Google Shopping platform, and an expanded partnership with Shopify and its network of 1.7 million retailers. According to him, users already use Google’s shopping features more than a billion times a day, which represents an untapped universe for the search giant. Google remains a minor player in a company that reached $ 861.12 billion in the United States last year, according to Digital Commerce 360.

Ready describes Google Shopping as a platform rather than a retailer or marketplace. It is designed to help people “discover, learn and buy the products they love, whether those products are from a big box retailer, new brands aimed directly at consumers, or the mom-and-pop store of Canada.” corner”. he wrote in a blog post sent to Forbes before the announcement of the I / O.

Formerly COO at PayPal and CEO of Venmo and Braintree – which PayPal acquired in 2013 – Ready began changing company strategy a few months after joining Google in January 2020, just as the pandemic was about to trigger a explosion in digital shopping which McKinsey says has created a 10-year take a leap forward in e-commerce adoption over a three month period. This included the switch to Google Shopping far from its “pay-to-play” advertising model by opening Free Shopping Lists to all merchants as online retailers.

“The main place where Google and Amazon are different is in advertising. Google has literally been doing this for 20 years now. It’s a much more advanced product … but Amazon is catching up very quickly, ”said Brian Roizen, co-founder and chief architect of Feedonomics, a management platform that helps big brands and retailers (including Amazon, Walmart and Target) to improve data quality. and product discovery.

Amazon doesn’t specifically disclose ad sales, but does include its fourth quarter earnings report an “other” category of nearly $ 7 billion, part of which is advertising revenue.

Google won’t see any revenue from the free ads and instead hopes that a massive collection of users will attract merchants, who in turn will attract more users to the service. While not an online retailer in the traditional sense (it doesn’t own or control inventory), Google Shopping mimics one with ranked listings, promoted suggestions based on past behavior. , a shopping cart and the “Buy on Google” functionality.

This is all probably designed to take advantage of Google Ads, which brought Alphabet $ 147 billion last year, more than half of all online ad spend in the US This dominance is being hacked by Amazon, which increased its spend share to 19% last year from 13.3% in 2019. Today, more than half of online shoppers start their searches on Amazon, which makes it a great place for advertisers to connect with potential customers.

Ready can thwart this foray by emphasizing to merchants the power of Google data and the tools that data can potentially help create. Google will present a “Shopping Graph”, an AI-generated model that “includes products, sellers, brands, reviews …[and] how these attributes relate to each other, ”Ready wrote.

The feature is modeled on Google’s “Knowledge Graph” – which appears to users as an infobox when they search for things like a celebrity’s name – but will be hidden from merchants and other users on the front-end, with updates and information provided by Google -developed tools to help optimize their ads.

“It’s really our modeling and our data set around these things,” Ready said. “And then we give it back to them through specific product features.”

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