Google is making a significant change to its Google Shopping platform by letting any business owner that sells products online list their inventory for free. Usually, an e-commerce operation would need to pay for ad placement on Google Shopping. But the company says it will now let anyone who operates a website or manages a store on a marketplace platform list without paying. Google still plans to charge companies for top placement as promoted listings.
“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,” Bill Ready, Google’s president of commerce, tells 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.”
“Google Shopping hasn’t let you list for free since 2012”
Ready says Google has been working on these changes for some time, but the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is pushing it to accelerate those plans. The new free option for Google Shopping will go into effect for the US starting April 27th, and Ready says it will be rolling out to Google Shopping worldwide over the course of the next few months.
Existing customers will now be able to list their full inventories in the event they were only paying to promote some products on the platform. New users can now apply to place listings for free through Google’s Merchant Center.
As part of the effort, Google is partnering with PayPal to help bring more merchants onto the platform faster by letting them link their 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 websites 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. In that time, it’s grown as an alternative to standard e-commerce giants like Amazon and the websites of traditional retailers like Best Buy and Walmart by letting retailers list their direct website links and letting customers search for individual products and price match.