There’s good news this week for those who have always wanted to get involved in Google shopping. On April 21, Google announced that it would soon be free to sell in the Shopping tab. The changes will roll out in the U.S. by the end of April and should be expanded globally before the end of the year.

The search engine giant could not have picked a better time for this news, with ecommerce traffic having dramatically increased due to the coronavirus pandemic. Google stated that it hopes this will help “merchants better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google.”

The ability to utilize this sales channel for free could change the game for many smaller merchants who otherwise couldn’t afford to use Google Shopping. It offers the chance to increase a store’s visibility, showcasing their products to the millions who use Google Shopping every day. Let’s break down this latest announcement and see what it means for dropshippers and ecommerce entrepreneurs.

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Google Shopping: What is it and What Has Changed?

Much like Facebook or Instagram ads, Google Shopping ads – also known as Product Listing Ads (PLAs) – are another way to acquire customers and make sales. Although Google Shopping ads aren’t as popular with dropshippers as social media ads, they account for over 16 percent of ecommerce site sales.

Google Shopping ads appear either at the top of search results or to the right. And naturally, they can also be found in the Shopping tab. They differ from the text ads seen in search results because they include images of the product. Below you can see the PLAs in the red box, compared with the text ads next to them in the results.

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Screenshot of Product Listing Ads in Google

Because PLAs give shoppers all the relevant information they need – price, picture, product name, and store name – those who the ads have a higher chance of actually completing a purchase. In fact, Google Shopping has a 30 percent higher conversion rate than text ads. This is what makes Google Shopping such a powerful platform.

Until now, to have your products listed on Google Shopping, you needed to have accounts on both Google Merchant Center and Google Ads. Having an account on Merchant Center allowed you to organize your product feed in a Google-friendly format, while Ads is where you could control bidding and advertising.

Even with the new changes to Google Shopping, it will still be necessary to have a Merchant Center account. This is because you will still need to have all your store and product information in a Google-friendly format to be displayed. However, with Google Shopping now free, you don’t necessarily need to have a Google Ads account to take advantage of this platform.

Is There Any Point Still Paying for Google Shopping?

A woman holds a credit card by a laptop

If you’re currently paying for Google Shopping ads, you may be wondering what this means for you. The easy answer is that yes, there’s still value in paying for Google Shopping ads.

Although stores will be able to list products on Google Shopping for free, there will still be benefits to paying for placements. For example, paying for ads will be the best way to ensure the coveted top placements for your product ads.

Additionally, if you were only paying to have some of your products displayed on Google Shopping, you can now go ahead and list all of your products for free. To do this, you will need to make sure all of your products are in the Merchant Center product feed.

How Can I Sell on Google Shopping?

As mentioned, although it’s now free, getting ads on Google Shopping will not happen automatically.

To make sure your store takes advantage of this new opportunity, you need to sign your store up to the Google Merchant Center. If you’re not already signed up as a user you’ll need to complete and onboarding process. The good news is that there’s a comprehensive onboarding guide on the Google Merchant Center Help page that will walk you through the process.

Onboarding in the Google Merchant Center

Once you’ve signed up to the Merchant Center, you need to go to “Growth” and click on the “Manage programs” section. From there, you can opt into “surfaces across Google,” which includes the unpaid Google Shopping ads.

Sound a bit complicated? Thankfully, as a Shopify users, there’s a more straightforward way.

By going to the Shopify App Store you can simply install the handy Google Shopping app. This app integrates with the Google Merchant Center and Google Ads and makes it a breeze to add your products.

After you’ve done this, you’ll need to input your product feeds into your account to make sure your products will be displayed. As with most Google products, this process is not only straightforward but very intuitive as well.

Can I Sell on Google Outside of the U.S.?

As you might have noticed, if you want to sell on Google but sell outside of the U.S., you’ll have to wait a little bit longer for this change to roll out.

At this point, the free Google Shopping ads will be introduced in the U.S. by the end of April. However, there is no firm date for international roll-out, with the company saying, “we aim to expand this globally before the end of the year.”

If you sell outside of the U.S., don’t let this wait upset you. Instead, use this as an opportunity to get everything in order so that when it does roll out, you’re fully prepared and ready to go.

Will you take advantage of this change? Do you already have experience with Google Shopping? Share your experience with fellow entrepreneurs below.

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