Up until now, I was mostly negative about Google Shopping which has transformed into an utter paid model for retailers. It just seemed like a greedy move to transit the service from free to paid without attempting to endow new paramount premium advantages. And I wasn’t the only one presuming that.
On the last few days however, Google has furnished its shopping service with new features to pad the commerce experience for both customers and merchants. Would that be enough to change the mind of the many incredulous leery-gazing folks out there (mine included)? Let’s review the new stuff first.
This new addition shouldn’t surprise anybody. Since Google+ landed and brandished the entire social media in June 2011, Google has made plentiful strenuous attempts to interlace it with its other services. Hence, implementing some of Google+ social elements inside Shopping just makes sense.
Now, whenever users are browsing through Google Shopping while they’re connected to their Google+ account, they’ll see ratings and reviews from their connections about the products they encounter when available. Here’s an example for an ice cream maker product with a review from a connection (marked with the red arrow):
After clicking on the product and scrolling down to the Reviews section, you’ll see the extended connection’s review. This is actually quite a wonderful addition… especially when it comes to the twisted online review world, people mostly trust recommendations from their friends and this small addition grants exactly that.
The process of reviewing a product yourself for your Google+ connections has also been smoothed- simply enter the product you wish to review and click on the “Write a review” button (when logged-in of course). Then, you can rate it and write what you think about it.
360-Degree Product Photos
Another interesting new feature is the option to explore a product via a 360-degree photo view. When a product clasps this option, you’ll find a “3D” indication near its photo. Clicking on it will open up the 360-degree view box (works with HTML5-enabled Web browsers).
At the moment, a handful of toy products are available for a 360-degree view and the assortment supposed to enlarge soon as more merchants will enroll. If you are a merchant and you want to display 360-degree view of your products, fill out this form.
Shopping can be quite exhausting, I know. It’s just a lot of researching, comparing, examining and deciding. So this is a new feature which I actually no less than admire. Shortlists. Found a product you consider buying but you want to quest some more? Add it to a shortlist where the products can be easily compared. Seek another opinion? Share the shortlist on Google+. Fantastic.
What I especially like about Shortlists is that you can also add products from all over the Web and not just from Google Shopping. Once adding a URL from another site, a crawler will try to extract details (images, specs, price) from that page so it would be convenient to compare.
As major eCommerce players such Amazon and eBay aren’t participating in this paid-to-play game, Shortlists can be extremely useful.
Deals, Discounts and Promotions
Finding special deals became almost an integral part of the online shopping experience. Everybody wants a reduced price or a gift to feel better about their purchases. Through Google Offers, Shopping now exhibits all those special offers on the results page itself when they are available. Nice.
So… the big question is if now Google Shopping worth its entering fees for retailers? Although I’m not fully convinced yet, all those new features alongside Catalogs definitely makes the service more worthy for a paid inclusive platform and mitigates my initial harsh thoughts about the new model.