Google Shopping Actions is a Bet on the Growth of Google Express

 In Shopping

In its ongoing quest to generate more revenue from Search Google announced Shopping Actions last month. Shopping Actions is Google’s latest step towards universal checkout. We were curious about the potential of this new program so we looked at the data. And what we found may shed some light into why Google thinks now is the right time to make this move.

The Universal Checkout Opportunity

According to Google, mobile search for “where to buy” has grown over 85% since 2016. So they partnered with a few key retailers to pilot Google Express to provide a shopping platform that “allows retailers to surface their products across different Google platforms,” and “easily turn browsing into buying”.

In addition to the convenience of shopping across Google platforms, Shopping Actions is starting to integrate with the retailer’s existing loyalty rewards. And some retailers are starting to extend special promotions to Google Express that they traditionally reserve for purchases made within their own walled gardens. With other features like 1-click re-ordering, a universal shopping cart, and saved payment credentials across these platforms, Google and its retail partners are taking a huge swing directly at Amazon.

The Amazon Threat

It’s no secret that retailers have been struggling to find effective ways to manage the threat posed by Amazon. By partnering with Google, retailers now have the opportunity to sell products with voice, mobile, and search. That is no small audience. Google Search volume continues to dominate this field, with more than 62% of all search occurring on Google alone (another 22% of search traffic occurs on Google Images.) So now, retailers are finally able to reach more potential customers than even Amazon.

In addition to Search volume, Google also has a viable competitor to Amazon’s Echo, with its Google Home. These smart home devices rely on voice search, and customers are increasingly using them to make purchases. According to Juniper Research, smart voice devices, like Echo and Home, will be installed in 55% of U.S. households. That’s an opportunity no retailer can afford to lose.

By partnering with Google, retailers are able to connect with customers where customers want to shop, and how they want to shop. And by partnering with retailers, Google gets to continue to monetize their leadership position in Search, with retailers that have a good distribution network. It’s a win-win.

The Staggering Growth of Google Express

We got curious to see just how effective Express has been in generating traffic. So we did what we do and looked at the data.

Google Express grew 33% quarter-over-quarter (Q4 2017 to Q1 2018). Or put another way, Google Express grew by one third from the busiest quarter of year to the slowest. Traffic has continued to increase at a steady clip in the last 6 months, growing, on average, 9% larger each week. And our predictions show that Google Express traffic will continue to grow, more than doubling by this time next year if this trend continues.

All this traffic certainly translates to more sales. According to Google, retail partners saw the average shopping cart increase by 30% after joining the program. So for retailers looking to combat Amazon, it seems Google may have found a viable, and growing, alternative.

To see which retailers were poised to make the biggest gains, we analyzed the top 20,000 products viewed in the first three months of the year to identify which stores where generating the most attention. What we found was that the top 10 domains accounted for approximately 90 percent of all the product views on Google Express. While some of the big players in the top 10, like Walmart, were obvious, we were surprised to see other retailers, like The Mine, break the top 10 while others like Best Buy, didn’t.

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