Pros and Cons of Google Shopping Actions

Google Shopping Actions allows retailers to list their products for sale directly on Google. This service offering, otherwise known as Buy On Google, allows retailers to sell on Google, with no commission fees, and gain visibility across multiple Google platforms. Essentially, Google Shopping Actions enables you to sell products from your own site, directly on Google. Customers never have to leave Google or land on your site to place their order giving you increased visibility and them an easier, more seamless shopping experience.

Google says that “Shopping Actions enables a frictionless shopping experience by using a shareable list, universal shopping cart, and instant checkout with saved payment credentials, allowing customers to easily turn browsing into buying.”

This means that customers can shop from many different merchants at once instead of going from site to site and placing multiple orders. 

Essentially, Shopping Actions gives you the ability to appear all over Google. Your listings can appear (accompanied by a little shopping cart icon) in Google search results, Google Shopping ads, image searches and YouTube videos. 

Want to learn more about our Google Shopping services? Contact The Media Captain!

Our Experience with Google Shopping Actions

We set up Google Shopping Actions for our in-house eCommerce brand, DermWarehouse, and were extremely excited about the prospect of this new source of traffic. We thought that if we could get accepted to this program, we’d have a whole new influx of customers. We figured these would essentially be like free Google shopping listings for our business. 

We were extremely excited about what Google Shopping Actions could mean for our business, but we may have been a little over zealous. Just because your products are available to buy on Google doesn’t mean they’ll get a lot of traction. Without the ability to place bids for top placement for your listings, as you can with Google Shopping, getting prime real estate with Shopping Actions is more difficult.

Learn More: How to Optimize Google Shopping Ads for a Better ROAS

We’ve spent a lot of time setting up this platform for our business, so let’s go through the pros and cons:

Pros of Google Shopping Actions:

No Commission

Google doesn’t charge a commission fee for selling on their platform. Google shopping actions is such a great way to get in front of new customers, for free. With 46% of people starting their product search on Google, this is an easy and free way to get in front of a lot of people.

Prominent branding

Shoppers know who they’re buying from so there’s never any confusion there. Google gives all of your store’s info including reviews, return policies and more. This is a good opportunity to ensure new customers from Google come back to shop with you.

No competition from Google

Unlike Amazon, who sells everything under the sun and competes with all of the other merchants selling on the platform, Google doesn’t pose a threat or a direct competitor to their retailers. You’re competing with other merchants, but not Google.

Customer support

Google handles everything on the customer service side, including returns. This is one less thing to worry about as a retailer and it’s nice to have some of this work taken off your hands.

Builds trust among customers

Not only does shopping actions allow for increased visibility of your brand, being able to shop directly through Google will increase trust among potential customers. Even if they’ve never shopped on your site before or heard of your business, they know that the order is being handled by Google. 

Learn More: How to Improve eCommerce Customer Service

Some products are even backed by the Google Guarantee. According to Google, “if you’re backed by the Google Guarantee, and your customers aren’t satisfied with the quality of your work, Google may, in its absolute and sole discretion, reimburse the customer up to the amount paid for the initial service, subject to a lifetime limit.”

Cons of Google Shopping Actions:

Strict shipping guidelines

Google has strict guidelines for the amount of time you take to get products to your customers. While transit time not exceeding 10 days and processing time not exceeding 4 days doesn’t sound very strict, if you don’t ship quickly, you won’t be able to keep up with the competition.

We started to realize that Google favors retailers who get products out the door faster. It makes sense, however, if we don’t process orders the same day and have a transit time of 3-4 days, we really can’t compete. 

Price competition

Google Shopping Actions is great for the consumer. They can do price comparisons right on Google without having to click back and forth to different websites. For retailers, however, if your prices are not the lowest, you likely don’t stand a chance. 

For DermWarehouse, we’re an authorized seller of all the brands we carry. The brands set the prices and we can’t deviate. This makes a platform like Google Shopping Actions (and Amazon) difficult for us because of the vast number of people who are selling the same product at lower prices.

If you control the price of your products, you may have a lot more luck with Buy on Google.

Low visibility & order volume

We were extremely excited to get the ball rolling with Google Shopping Actions. We thought that it would mean a ton of new customers for our site. Without the ability to bid on your products like you can within Google Shopping, it’s really difficult to stand out from the pack, unless you’re offering the lowest price.

Integrating with shipping & inventory management systems

One of the trickiest parts of shopping actions for us has been the ability to integrate new orders into our inventory management system to keep track of stock and our shipping software to ship out orders. 

Shopping Actions has remained a pretty manual process for us, which can be a pain. We’ve found workarounds to connect to our shipping software and handle inventory, but they aren’t as reliable as we’d like them to be. Integration with Amazon, on the other hand, was extremely seamless with both our shipping & inventory management software. We haven’t had the same experience with Google. 

How to Qualify for Shopping Actions

Even though we haven’t had the best luck with Shopping Actions, I still think it’s worth being there. You can get some good visibility with the program and the setup isn’t too intensive.

According to Google, you’ll need to meet the following criteria to participate in Google Shopping Actions:

  • Availability and payments in the US. You’ll need to be able to deliver orders to customers within the mainland US, handle returns within the US, and be a legally registered business incorporated in the US. 
  • Inventory is free of restricted products and services. A selected number of product categories aren’t supported on Buy on Google at this time.
  • Payment service provider. You’ll be required to connect your Merchant Center account with a payment-service provider.
  • Meet returns and customer support standards and policies. Accept returns for at least 30 days after delivery for most items and process the refund within 2 days.
  • A valid government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license or passport, from the country your business is incorporated in.
  • Compliance with all other Buy on Google policies
  • Compliance with all other Shopping ads policies

Learn More: What You Need to Know About Google Merchant Center

In Closing

  • Google Shopping Actions allows retailers to list their products for sale directly on Google. 
  • While we haven’t had a ton of success with Shopping Actions with our own eCommerce site, it’s still worth getting set up to gain this visibility on Google.
  • Google Shopping Actions doesn’t charge a commission, helps build trust among potential customers and takes some customer service work off of your plate.
  • Shopping Actions does have strict shipping and fulfillment guidelines, high competition, and if you can’t compete on price, then it’s hard to gain visibility.

Stefanie Parks

Stefanie is the Co-Founder of The Media Captain. She's currently the CEO of DermWarehouse, The Media Captain's in-house eCommerce brand. Stefanie is an expert on all things eCommerce. She's grown DermWarehouse to beyond $5 million in annual revenue and has a customer base beyond 250,000. Stefanie provides helps with eCommerce strategy development for The Media Captain. She's a frequent contributor onto the TMC blog.

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