A ecommerce marketplace is a type of site where products or services are provided by multiple third parties, whereas transactions are processed by the marketplace operator. Ecommerce marketplaces aggregate products from a wide array of providers, selection is usually more wide, availability is higher, and prices are more competitive than in vendor-specific online retail stores. Some of the most popular ecommerce marketplaces are Amazon, Ebay, Alibaba, Uber, Airbnb etc.
Myriad views have been expressed on the future of Ecommerce by experts in the field as well as laypersons. There has been talk of brick and mortar spaces in retail being reduced to just ‘showrooms’ and that mobile commerce would be the key to success.
You have probably taken a close look at Google Shopping by now. True there are just sponsored posts which is nothing at all compared to the real ecommerce giants such as Amazon and eBay. However, if you have spent time on the site and browsed around, you probably have had a pretty good experience.
Just imagine if Google replaces basic organic search with business enquiries instead of the sponsored ads, what would be the result? Will it enhance user experience? Most certainly, it would. You would be able to compare similar goods from various retailers without the need of visiting their individual websites! Now, isn’t that something great compared to just links?
Here is a look at why and how Google Shopping can substitute mere organic search and how websites would need to prepare for such an eventuality.
Google Shopping- A ring side view:
It is apparent that Google’s endeavor has been to keep people inside of their search engine with various features such as knowledge graphs, flights, instant answers and local packs. One would be led to believe that shopping is next on their list! They have begun to test showcase shopping adverts of late, thereby increasing exposure of products within search results.
For example, in a Google search for “Shoes”, the result may be considered a normal organic one. Google doesn’t explicitly say that these ads are paid for. They just display a tiny notification in the top right hand corner. As a customer, it wouldn’t matter to you whether it is a paid or unpaid advertisement, as far as you can find what you want! In this case what Google would have done is to have enabled you to browse or purchase the shoes, right there, without having to leave to another site.
Thus, Google offers a superior experience than other sites- it loads fast and moreover you are familiar with it. You can find an entire product range from different retailers in the same place. You can even compare rates without ever having to search elsewhere.
However, when you try voice search for the same product, the results aren’t too good. But, when you match this with Google shopping results, you’d get an idea of where we are headed to in the future. Since the voice search does not provide good quality search engine results page for input queries, these would definitely improve. When that happens, perhaps Google Shopping would provide the best results to user queries and allow one to perform what they want to, with relative ease, in a very few clicks.
We can be assured of this, because of Google’s track record of reducing the amount of steps a user has to input to get answers- as proved by features like flight comparisons, insurance, instant answers etc. So logically, we could expect the same for shopping too, when these results become more dependable.
Where will the user go transactions- to the site?
Yes, to make a purchase, initially one would need to go to the site. At present, though Google Shopping provides all the product information required, one needs to reach the landing page to make the purchase. However, over a period of time, Google is expected to complete the business transaction right there, without the user having to go to a landing page.
What about the webmasters?
In this scenario, it could be quite ambiguous for businesses. On one hand, if Google ranks your product higher than a competitor’s, you would benefit with the additional sales that would result out of such a ranking. On the other hand, if Google looks to monetize the feature, you’d probably have to shell out a portion from sales, much like Amazon or eBay!
Next, measurement of site traffic may have to be refined. You could look to get ranking reports from tracking companies who would obviously adapt to the new scenario, as they have done over the last year.
How could you prepare to face this?
Preparation for this eventuality has two aspects, depending on whether, a: the physical products are your own or, b: whether they are not, but you are just the affiliate site.
- If the products are your own, you would need to provide Google all the information about the products that you can, so they help in search results. Optimize your product pages and have in place the structured data. There could be additional immediate advantages like getting richer extracts in search results, thereby leaping over competitors.
- If the products are not your own, and yours is only a review or affiliate site, the ranking may become difficult, especially for precise long-tail search words. As such, you could follow the same procedures as in ‘a’ above so as to get similar benefits, now. Also you’d need to ensure that you have excellent content that would naturally place it higher in search.
Produce content that is comprehensive
Content should be really excellent- that which takes users form thinking ‘which product do I buy’ to ‘this is the product I need’. In other words, users need to do no more research, what they read should be comprehensive enough for them to make up their minds.
With the range of products being so exhaustive and varied it becomes a tough choice when a user goes online to buy a product. Inclusive and useful content will lead users to trust the product and thereby your site, because Google is doing just that. This would have a cascading effect and users will be encouraged to return to the site ever more. This can only be a win-win situation for you as well as the user. So what do you think?
Deepak Wadhwani has over 20 years experience in software/wireless technologies. He has worked with Fortune 500 companies including Intuit, ESRI, Qualcomm, Sprint, Verizon, Vodafone, Nortel, Microsoft and Oracle in over 60 countries. Deepak has worked on Internet marketing projects in San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange Country, Denver, Nashville, Kansas City, New York, San Francisco and Huntsville. Deepak has been a founder of technology Startups for one of the first Cityguides, yellow pages online and web based enterprise solutions. He is an internet marketing and technology expert & co-founder for a San Diego Internet marketing company.