Has Google’s New Commerce Search Solution Bridged The Omni-Channel Gap For Retailers?
Kevin Ludford, CEO of InventCommerce offers advice to online retailers in growing conversion rates and how Google's Commerce Search feature can help.
Etailers and retailers have very similar objectives - to increase conversion and improve customer reach. Both also battle to improve back office efficiency in terms of stock management and order fulfilment to gain customer loyalty and increase revenue margins.
The “traditional” retailer has an extra layer of complexity as they now realise that online isn’t just another virtual store. It’s an integrated revenue channel for their business.
For both, conversion is key.
Online conversions are challenging. You have an entire catalogue of products available for the consumer to browse and research with little or no help. There is no assistant there to tell your customers they need a boot cut jean with that top.
You need to find the exact product your consumers are searching for within the first few seconds of them landing on your website. Statistics say that between 50-75% of consumers use the search box as their first activity on a commerce site to locate or refine a product search.
Once a product is found, the consumer then looks at product match, alternative product suggestions, up and cross selling, through to availability and check out.
So, how can search help conversion and more importantly convergence for traditional retailers?
With ecommerce projects, search has always been low in the pecking order. Most etailers focus on the user journey, merchandising and the ‘I want the single page check-out’ requirement. These features are somewhat redundant if your consumer cannot find the right product in the first place. Typically, ecommerce sites don’t focus on good quality search capability from day one.
So, when Google launched their Commerce Search solution did they actually understand the complexity of ecommerce and the demands from both etailers and retailers looking to improve conversion rates?
There are very few green field ecommerce projects today, so the ability to integrate Google Commerce Search within existing ecommerce sites is an advantage. Etailers benefit from search features such as auto complete, SAYT ‘search-as-you-type’ and Google’s Search Instant feature to provide sub-second response times for search result. Combine that with Google’s cloud server infrastructure and you have a globalized architecture with fast results anywhere in the world. It’s safe too.
That in itself would be a major step forward for thousands of ecommerce sites, but Google has clearly thought about the conversion process too. They have enhanced Commerce Search with rich ‘searchandising’ features, allowing the merchandiser to quickly and accurately promote products based on browser behaviour.
For etailers looking to implement a recommendations engine, Google combines search and recommendations capabilities based on what other users are searching for or purchasing designed to increase conversions and the consumers’ average order value.
So, Google does seem to have taken a serious approach to ecommerce conversion.
But what about the traditional bricks and mortar stores?
Google Commerce Search now enables the inclusion of data from the feeds provided by the retailers’ local store inventory. So you can now support stock availability in your local stores for online purchasing decisions. This allows retailers to offer many new services such as click and collect, mobile commerce search and purchase, tying the online and offline transaction worlds together.
Together, etailers could add Google Commerce Search to create fast, unique, location aware product search experiences across online, mobile and in-store for today’s omni-channel consumer and support those retailers with a ’ joined up” strategy.
For the retailer the real challenge will be the back office infrastructure to support live local inventory product data and availability in real time for the consumers. Get this bit right and we really have bridged that gap.