In Part 1, we covered the old Google Product Search; in Part 2, we reviewed the changes that are taking place in the new Google Shopping; and in Part 3, we did some analysis. Now, in the final part of our series, let’s take a look at the choices merchants have before them, and how they might strategize.
Alternatives to Google Shopping
So if paying for product listings isn’t an option, where do merchants go?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot to choose from. Now that Google’s monetizing, these are the biggest comparison search services which still operate on the free inclusion model:
- The Find
The rest of the top comparison services operate on the familiar cost-per-click (CPC) system, where retailers pay only when their listings are clicked.
Will merchants lose out if they stick with free listings? That depends on individual industry, product line, budget, and marketing needs.
Let’s look at the data.
According to research released in August, and based on performances in the second quarter of 2012 (when Shopping was still known as Product Search), Google ranked #1 in conversion rates — despite ranking second behind Amazon Product Ads in traffic.
Overall traffic rates are important, of course, but potentially skewed — it doesn’t matter how much traffic is sent if no one actually clicks through to buy a product, right?
Conversions are what bring dollars into the bank. The conversion rates and, when applicable, the average cost-per-click of the top 10 shopping search engines in the second quarter are as follows:
- Google, 2.6%
- Pronto, 2.2% ($0.49)
- Nextag, 2.1% ($0.48)
- Amazon Product Ads, 1.8% ($0.34)
- PriceGrabber, 1.8% ($0.30)
- Shopping.com, 1.6% ($0.35)
- Become, 1.6% ($0.39)
- Shopzilla, 1.5% ($0.36)
- Bing, 1.1%
- TheFind, 0.6%
There are other variables on which to measure comparison shopping engine success, too.
Revenue is one, and Google ranks right at the top, with Nextag, Amazon Product Ads, Shopzilla, and Shopping.com trailing behind.
Merchant tools are another key variable, and unsurprisingly, Google’s expansive suite of tools is #1 yet again. Pricegrabber, Shopzilla, Nextag, and Become fill out the rest of the top five slots.
One area where Google lags? Responsiveness to merchants with accounts. In fact, in this area Google doesn’t even crack the top five — Become, PriceGrabber, Shopping.com, Shopzilla, and Nextag hold those.
Again, Google’s price comparison search was still free when this data was collected. It will be interesting to compare the numbers again after paid inclusion Google Shopping has been active for a period of time. Will conversion rates fall or rise? What will the average CPC be? Will responsiveness improve?
So what’s a merchant to do? Again, that depends.
Some merchants are responding by only listing a fraction of their product line on Google Shopping, which serves the dual purpose of keeping one foot in the game while remaining conservative with their budgets.
Still wary? Experiment a little. Try listing the same product on Google Shopping and a few other comparison searches using the same criteria, and track the results carefully. Evaluate every few months and adjust as needed.
After all, in the world of commerce, nothing ever stays the same, and that’s especially true when it’s happening on the internet.
Thanks for following along with our Google Shopping series. If you have any questions or need help getting started, let us know!