Traditional search engines are aging, says research agency Wunderman Thompson Commerce. Search behavior changes quickly, and the search engines have to keep up. It is evident from Google Shopping Action (GSA), which was tested recently in France. You can order and pay in Google, which becomes the owner of the customer data and further distances the webshop. "You may be disappointed or have fundamental objections, but in the end, you do little about it. So think commercially. Create a competitive advantage by being the first to be on the platform."
The customer of the future has high expectations. Organizational consultant Bart Stofberg had got this right when he wrote an article for AG Connect a while ago: 'Customers expect the simplicity of Apple, the ubiquity of Google, the richness of YouTube's content, the intelligence of Amazon, the directness of Twitter, the customer experiences of Uber and the personal tone of Facebook. For webshops, it's a dizzying list. For consumers looking for something new, the common sense is where they find inspiration, and then they want to buy.
It seems that online marketplaces currently serve the searching consumer best. This is confirmed by the recent report 'The customer of the future 2019' by research agency Wunderman Thompson Commerce. To search for specific products, compare prices and read references, most consumers start their search on marketplaces (74 %), followed by search engines (54 %), websites of brands (30 %) and retailers (30 %). Traditional search engines are aging, says Wunderman Thompson Commerce, which consulted 15,000 online consumers.
Yes, Google was supremely powerful, wasn't it? Well, maybe not. Amazon has gained much ground, especially in the US. Almost every consumer search starts with Amazon. However, of course, Google doesn't just give in. Google Shopping Action (GSA), which is active in the US and is now getting tested in France, is the likely answer. From now on, consumers will be able to make purchases and pay directly on any device - including voice-controlled via Google Assistant. When a product is spotted via Google Assistant, Google Images or Google Search, and hop, straight into the universal shopping basket. In this way, Google gives retailers and brands an alternative to Amazon to reach the searching consumer.
The growth of marketplaces is undeniable. ChannelEngine is responding to this by linking retailers to platforms and marketplaces. "The retailer keeps turning the knobs, setting the price and sending the product," says founder Jorrit Steinz, who sees every platform turn into a transactional platform. Steinz mentions Instagram Checkout, where you can pay without leaving the app. You can buy Adidas, Kylie Cosmetics, Warby Parker, and other brands. For Steinz, it's simple: "You buy and pay where you get inspired, in YouTube, Google Images, Facebook Messenger, or Instagram Checkout."
Marketplaces give webshops traffic and deliver conversion. That's the short version of this story. Small webshops that want to join in will already need to have a niche product. Their process, customer service, and return policy must be in order. Moreover, they must have the means to be prominent everywhere. This can be difficult but not impossible according to Jorrit Steinz: "We have a customer with four employees on 23 channels."
Sharing customer data with or giving it to Google, that's what's about to happen. So what's in store after that? When GSA expands to include YouTube, the role of retailers and webshops will again diminish. There will be even fewer visitors to the webshop site. You may have fundamental objections to sharing or handing over information, but in the end that only gets in the way of your own business. To create a competitive advantage, strive to be the first on the platform. Make sure you have a good aggregator, useful content, and reliable product information. This will ensure that you stay competitive and attract consumers to your products at new marketplaces such as Google Shopping Actions.