What Google Can Do for Fashion

 What Google Can Do for Fashion

After a failed product search online – where a shopper delivers unrelated items, do not include what they are looking for or are told that a product does not exist even though a retailer is carrying it – the fashion brands have usually only eight minutes to deliver what the shopper is looking for before they stop. The risk is more than just a purchase: poor search results send shoppers to competitors ’websites, can form a negative association with a brand and can be less likely to return customers. consumer in the future.

That’s the findings of a Google survey intended to convince brands and retailers of the importance of creating the best possible online shopping experience – using Google search and shopping tools. The latest is the Google Retail Search tool, which allows brands to integrate Google search into their own websites.

Brands buy pitch from Google. Long a central player in e-commerce and marketing, more recently, Google’s outsized role in the space has grown even more. In the face of privacy changes and new regulations that make tracking how consumers behave online that much more difficult, brands are looking for more secure stakes in the digital advertising space, which has benefited. on Google.

The return on ad spending is declining across platforms, even as prices rise – cost per thousand visitors who see an ad, known as CPMs, on Google for fashion companies increased 148 percent from March 2021 to March 2022, according to marketing company Varos. But despite rising costs, it’s a better bet than on other platforms: the return on ad costs decreased 8 percent on Google over the same period compared to Facebook’s 41 percent decline. As such, fashion brands are increasing their Google ad spending more than other digital ad players. Varos data shows that fashion brands spent 114 percent more on Google from 2021 to 2022 year-to-date compared to a 72 percent increase in Facebook spending.

Creating a Google-centric marketing strategy is more than just placing an ad or optimizing the content for search. Best known for its search engine, the tech giant has also strengthened its purchasing capabilities, allowing for better comparison of purchase and discovery, according to Google executives. Google has become “the strongest and safest part of the marketing funnel,” according to a recent note from equity research firm MoffettNathanson.

The Great Search Time

Brands and retailers can tap into the power of search in two ways: through an external search engine and search tool on their own sites. Google moved to the latter with the launch on Mar. 30 of Google Retail Search, a new tool that allows brands to use Google’s search technology in their own channels, using Google AI and machine learning combined with the retailer’s product catalog to deliver own website search results.

Owner search tools have a reputation for being clunky, delivering irrelevant results or failing to understand a search at all. The tool is intended to reduce the $ 300 billion loss of retailers suffering from the abandonment of search in the U.S. alone, according to Google.

“This seems like a simple problem to solve, but it’s very difficult for e-commerce retailer sites to understand the purpose of a shopper and natural language in a search query, map that out imperfectly. catalog data and then deliver the most relevant results, ”said Carrie Tharpe, Google Cloud vice president of retail and consumer.

With this tool, shoppers should get solid results even on long, complicated searches, such as “long black dress with short sleeves and comfortable fit,” that doesn’t have to be refine or shorten their search. The technology works with a retailer or brand’s website on desktop, mobile as well as its app. It allows retailers or brands that use it to retain data from customer searches and takes an average of three months to integrate into a brand or retailer’s e-commerce site and app. (It takes time to assemble to fully import a product catalog, allowing for machine learning and testing before giving the best results.)

“This seems like a simple problem to solve, but it is very difficult for e-commerce sites of retailers to understand the purpose and natural language of a shopper in a search query”

Macy’s was one of the first fashion retailers to use Google Retail Search on its own website and to date has seen a 2 percent increase in conversions (reflecting customer engagement and search improvement) and a 1.3 percent increase in revenue per visit.

While the new retailer search tool can help drive results in their proprietary e-commerce channel, search has also grown in importance more broadly. Paid advertising and an obsession with buying innovation have dominated much of the collective conversation around digital advertising over the past decade. But paid ads are less effective than they used to be, especially when privacy regulation changes change and platforms including Google are eliminating tracking tools such as third-party cookies. , the search gained new importance.

“This is the first time in five to 10 years that people are talking about organic, well written content and PR … things that will engage your audience and take you on top of the results. in search, ”said Chris Donnelly, founder of Verb, a luxury digital marketing agency. “The whole game has changed.”

As of February 2022, Google accounts for more than 90 percent of the search engine market, followed by Bing, Yahoo and Baidu in Microsoft in China. (It’s worth noting that on lesser -known search engines like Bing, “traffic may not be the same as Google’s, but the quality of traffic is very good,” Ed Foster, vice president of GroupM and co -founder of search and social., told BoF last year.) Due to Google’s outsized market share, however, the platform has the most data feeding into its AI engine, making for a better experience for buyers are more likely to buy based on better results.

As a result, it is more important for brands to adopt the best practices to appear high in search results. That means making sure a brand’s website is rich with the right keywords, creating category or topic pages to organize the content of the brand’s site (as opposed to posts that are published but not organized in any way. in the taxonomy) and ensure press coverage from quality editorial sources that mention a brand or link back to the brand, Donnelly said. Displaying high -quality content – both image and text – on a retailer’s brand or website is also important, as Google recognizes that these items are more attractive to consumers.

For example, Donnelly’s company Verb worked with Net-a-Porter last year to help them improve the copy and content of their watch page. Verb immediately sowed the seeds in magazines and journalists. The result, Donnelly said, is a huge increase in traffic and sales.

A Suite of Shopping Tools

In addition to changes to Google’s search tools, the tech giant has also expanded its shopping tools over the past two years.

Brands can now appear on the Google shopping tab through organic results or paid ads (previously, the only way to appear on the Google shopping tab was to pay to join; the change, implemented in 2020, designed to lower the barrier of entry for small brands to be found on Google, said Bill Ready, Google’s president of commerce and payments.) Shoppers can adjust their Google Shopping search to filter products that are in stock at a brand or retailer’s store. Google Lens, a tool that allows people to search for products based on an image, is also testing a new beta feature that combines image search with words. Augmented Reality tools also allow shoppers to try out Google’s beauty products, a tool implemented by Ulta.

Google’s dominance of search doesn’t come for free. The company is fighting with international regulators bringing lawsuits against it for alleged antitrust violations in search and purchase, particularly in Europe (Google is fighting against lawsuits and for lack of enforcement, the company has not yet had to go through structural changes to help “restore competition,” according to the New York Times.) In the U.S., new legislation limiting Google’s reach is unlikely to be enacted, though lawsuits against Google may still arise. And despite the legal activity, Google is likely to put rules for the search and shopping game ahead, forcing fashion brands and retailers to play by Google’s rules, which aren’t always consistent.

“Google is always changing, but things are changing so much in search that something we can do now is not to prioritize six to 12 months in the search engine,” Donnelly said of the difficulties faced. of brands due to Google’s dominance. “Whether you’re starting a business now or you’re a brand trying to market, you’re building on the shoulders of giants.”

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