Google Shopping Now Free: How Retailers Should Take Advantage

Google has announced that it is bringing free product listings to its Shopping results, beginning next week is the US. The aim to expand this change globally within this year, having brought forward the change in the US to support the shift to Ecommerce brought about by Coronavirus. Currently all Product Listing Ads (in the main search results) and product listings (in the Shopping tab) are paid for via Google Ads. Google’s shopping listings were originally free but they shifted to a paid model in 2012.

What is changing?

The Google Shopping tab will now mostly feature free product listings although there will be adverts at the top and the bottom. This means that you can add your products to Google Shopping for free but those who pay will still be likely to get more sales.

Product listings on the main Google search results will still be paid for ads.

Why now?

Google was apparently planning this change and they have brought forward the roll out in the US as there is a huge shift from brick and mortar shopping to Ecommerce happening globally due to people being in lockdown. It’s unclear at this stage what the lasting impacts of this will be but some offline retailers may not survive long enough to find out.

Why is Google doing this?

As noted by Search Engine Journal, Google used to have a problem with low quality results appearing in the shopping listings – retailers who didn’t have to pay for their products to be featured were less inclined to keep on top of stock errors and incorrect listings. Google wants to ensure its users get good quality results so that they keep returning so this was risky. It’s now easier for retailers to manage their products (thanks to Ecommerce platforms like Shopify) and it’s easier for Google to verify this now.

Amazon has been gaining ground on Google for years now and Google has struggled to reverse this. By allowing retailers to list their products for free and partnering with Paypal, Shopify etc. to make the process easier, Google hopes to win back retailers.

How does this affect Retail and Ecommerce Marketing?

If you work in Ecommerce, or retail in general, you’ll no doubt already be working on how to pivot your Marketing strategy to reflect the world we find ourselves in today. While it’s unclear at this stage when, and to what extent, we will return to normal, its clear that Ecommerce is now vital for retailers. Businesses which don’t adapt in the short and long term may not survive.

Now is the time to reassess your Marketing strategy – your potential clients will find that their lives and their requirements have drastically changed so you need to adapt too. While many businesses are understandably looking reduce their Marketing spend this will cause them issues in the medium to long term. Plans need to be rethought and budgets fought for as Marketing is as vital as ever.

What can I do to prepare?

I would recommend preparing now so that you’re ready to take advantage of this as soon as it rolls out in the UK. Depending on the extent to which you are set up to sell online you may have a lot to do. If you’re not already setup for Ecommerce you’ll need to start by setting up an online store. Depending on your requirements and industry you’ll need to find the right platform for you which could be a bespoke site, Shopify, Big Cartel, Magento, WooCommerce + WordPress. Once that is set up you’ll need a Google Merchant Center account.

If you’re already selling online you’ll want to build this into your strategy. We’re helping our clients to adapt their strategies so get in contact if you would like our help.


Thomas Haynes

Thomas Haynes is a Digital Marketer with 12 years experience. He specialises in SEO and is the Head of Digital at Optix Solutions

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