The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the retail industry with many merchants turning to e-commerce though many are unprepared. In an effort to help these businesses make the transition to the digital age, Google has opened up Google Shopping listings to all retailers in Asia Pacific for free.
The search giant has already been doing this in India and Indonesia since 2019 and it is extending similar support across the broader region. Earlier this week, the company said it was taking measures to help the tourism industry recover from the impacts of COVID-19.
Google’s Shopping listings were, until recently, a paid-only option. Its model is based on Google’s regular ad bidding process. Now as part of Google’s expanded assistance push, it’s now making the listings available for free, though some paid slots will remain.
For retailers around the region that are increasingly reliant on e-commerce to survive, Google’s aid allows them to enjoy free exposure to millions of potential shoppers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google.
Similarly, the listing of more businesses on Google Shopping is set to benefit shoppers on the other hand will have more products to choose from and discover on the platform.
According to Google, when it extended the same aid to retailers in the U.S., those merchants received an average of twice as many views and recorded 50% more visitors. As it turned out, small and medium-sized businesses saw the biggest increase.
The changing face of retail in Asia
The way people shop and sell across the region is changing rapidly. Even before the pandemic, e-commerce was already taking off in Southeast Asia. Google estimates the regional internet economy touched USD100 billion in 2019 alone and it is projected to be worth USD300 billion by 2025.
Now COVID-19 has sped up these trends and according to Google’s analysis, 53% of online shoppers in APAC say they will choose to buy online more frequently after the pandemic. Another 40% of people who were not online shoppers before, said they intend to continue buying online. Adding to that, one in three shoppers have bought from a brand they didn’t shop with before.
It is also working closely with many of its partners to help merchants manage their products and inventory. This includes global partners like Shopify, and those across the region, including Haravan in Vietnam, Shopline in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and LnwShop in Thailand.
In advancing their plans with Google Shopping, the search giant hopes to build on these programs, providing extra support and relief for Asia Pacific retailers when it’s needed most.
So, where do merchants begin to take advantage of Google’s offering of free listings? If they are existing users of Google’s Merchant Centre and Shopping ads, they won’t have to do anything whereas new users will have to work to streamline the onboarding process over the coming weeks and months.