Remember when Google came late to the social media game when it launched Google+ and tried to go up against Facebook and the others? No one used Google+, so it was closed after eight uneventful years.
Google is at it again, taking on another internet behemoth — the almighty Amazon — but this effort might actually work. Google has a big advantage over Target, Walmart, eBay and the other e-commerce sites that will allow them to deliver personalized shopping experiences.
Google isn’t new to online shopping. It’s been dabbling in e-commerce since the early 2000s (anyone remember Froogle?), and the “Shopping” option has been present on search results for a while now, next to Images, News, Videos and More.
How Google Shopping differs from Amazon
Google has a big advantage over Amazon and its other competitors: It’s got years and years of data about you.
Think about it: Unless you’ve deleted what Google knows about you, it has a vast database of your searches, preferences, purchases, and interests that enables it to know what you like, what you need, where you go, and what you can afford.
Unlike Amazon, Google isn’t building enormous warehouses and distribution centers. Instead, the products you’ll see on your shopping page will be from hundreds of third-party Google-selected retailers including niche online boutiques to big-box mega retailers like Costco, Target, Best Buy, and Overstock. And Google Store, of course.
Shop for Google products like Chromecast, Google Home, and its suite of Nest home security products. (Note: For home security, though, Kim recommends SimpliSafe, because of its commitment to privacy, no-contract policy, and 24/7 monitoring.)
Inspired by your Google activity
Your shopping page includes a section with recommendations based on your most recent search activities. So, if your electric toothbrush isn’t working and you search for troubleshooting tips, as well as possible replacements, this is what you’ll see on your Google shopping page:
When you search for an item, Google Shopping will show you options for ordering online as well as if products are available from local stores. If you see the blue Buy with Google tag, that means you can pay for it using your saved Google account information.
How does Google Shopping work?
Google says your search results will be based on a combination of factors: advertiser bids, relevance, your search terms, your activity, and your shopping settings, which you can control through My Activity.
Go to myactivity.google.com and make sure you’re signed in, then select “Activity controls” from the menu on the left of your screen. Here, you can toggle off/on whether Google saves your web and app activities, location history, device information, voice and audio activity, and your YouTube history.
You’ll be able to read customer reviews, which Google collects from its own Google Customer Reviews program, plus it collects reviews from advertisers, sellers, and third-party review sites.
To make purchases, you’ll have options. You can click through and buy directly from the retailer, or you can use the “Buy with Google Guarantee” option. That means you’ll be able to pay using card information you’ve stored in Google, and if delivery is late or you need to return an item, you can do that through Google Shopping.
Delivery costs depend on the store, according to Google Shopping’s help page. Some stores have $25 to $35 minimums before they’ll throw in the shipping for free.
Will you use Google Shopping?
Google is coming into the personalized online shopping game late. In 2018, market researchers reported that Amazon captured the number one spot from Google for the first place we go when we search for products.
We know what happened when it tried to enter the social media market and failed to deliver a better experience than Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat. No one used it, it floundered for several years, and earlier this year, Google put it to rest.
Amazon is going to be hard to beat — it has everything, and it keeps adding new perks for Amazon Prime members. On the one hand, we love that we get personalized recommendations based on what search engines know about us. On the other hand, we’re creeped out by just how much artificial intelligence knows about us.
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