Google’s shipping program for retailers – it’s all about offline conversions

Surprised by Google’s move to offer quick shipping for retailers? Don’t be. This is all about getting offline conversion data.

In eCommerce, almost all optimization is done with actual conversions in mind (Companies like Lexity also use funnel metrics, but that’s uncommon). When Google Product Search lists products from large retailers, they are unable to get this information – all they know is that someone clicked off from their site to go to, say, Macy’s – they have no idea if an actual conversion took place.

What works for SMB, doesn’t always for LB

As it turns out, Google does get conversion data for a very large number of SMBs. Many great ad programs Google has (e.g. Product Extensions and Product Ads), usually involve retailers adding conversion tracking on to their site. With this in place, Google can usually optimize their advertising automatically to yield the highest ROI. No conversion tracking, and you’re on your own.

Big retailers don’t even touch some of these programs because adding conversion tracking to their site would tell Google everything about their sales process. They’d know how many products the retailer is selling (importantly, whether through Google or not), when the sales happen, for how much, what the order size is, seasonality, trends, etc. Given Google’s big ambitions, big retailers are understandably wary. Would Google use this information against them? Use it to help other retailers?

Race to get conversion data

Google really wants this conversion data from the big guys – it’s clean, it’s large, and it’s reliable. It helps them understand commerce and build products to tailor to that huge segment – hopefully eventually figuring out how to beat Amazon.

Previously, they’ve launched Google Commerce Search – a great product that outsources internal site search for retailers to Google. It’s a paid program, but it’s not the dollars Google is after – having access to the entire catalog, inventory, search queries and traffic is invaluable intelligence for Google.

This move is no different. Google would like to know everything there is to know about online retail – from the pros that have been doing it for decades. To what end? As with all things Google, we can only guess!

Amit

2 thoughts on “Google’s shipping program for retailers – it’s all about offline conversions

  1. Presumably, that’s what Google has in mind. However, they might be underestimating the silo realities at big retailers – the group responsible for revenue is not the same group that takes care of shipping. Unless the CEOs mandate this, getting support and buy-in from all groups involved might be hard.

  2. ‘Big retailers don’t even touch some of these programs because adding conversion tracking to their site would tell Google everything about their sales process.’

    so — why would they participate now? Generating more sales from expedited/free/outsourced shipping wipes out all the aforementioned concerns?

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