How to get seen on Google Shopping

Can software help you game the system and make the right bids?

Google Shopping ads have become one of the most popular ad channels for retailers. The carousel of product images is often the first thing to catch a customer’s attention when they do a search, making it incredibly powerful.

Over the past three-and-a-half years, Leeds-based Bidnamic has been helping e-commerce retailers to maximise their efforts on the channel. CEO Liam Patterson says the company started as a Marketplace business with “an unhealthy reliance on Google Shopping. We scaled the business up and became addicted to winning in that channel.”

Every click has a cost, so Bidnamic took a data play approach to Google Shopping, seeking to work out how much they needed to pay in order to maximise the profit. Their success led to Bidnamic’s investors wanting to see if this approach could be replicated across their portfolio of companies. 

An early client was crafting business Stitch & Story, and the approach led to a hockey stick in revenue and profit. Since then, clients have included big names such as Avon and Claire’s Accessories, as well as mid-market, challenger and start-up companies such as Chilly’s bottles and Lounge Underwear, which have scored highly in The Sunday Times Fast Track 100. 

According to Patterson, Bidnamic aims to help retailers get more growth and profitability in the channel. “Rather than achieve this through employing an agency or outsourcing it, we do it through software,” he says. 

However this wouldn’t work for everyone, he adds, outlining three criteria for success.

A searchable product

Firstly, you need a great searchable product that people will seek often without knowing the brand. “For an emerging brand, like Chilly’s, it’s about getting product in front of people. Our software allows them to be more aggressive than they would otherwise be,” he says. 

Everything starts with the search term. A brand like Lounge, which sells lingerie may not have brand awareness. Showing the product image for a generic term is buying people’s attention. At that point it’s for the retailer to show their product off to its best advantage to get that sale.

Before Bidnamic works with a brand it undertakes a free audit, which results in about 7 of every 10 potential clients being turned down because they won’t see success on this channel. 

The right price and a site that delivers

Price is the next important factor. It is not necessary to be the cheapest, but a brand has to be competitive.

Finally, it’s essential that the website delivers on the promise. It needs to be fast, navigable, and easy to check out of. A poor experience or limited range is a let-down. E-commerce brands have to be alert to upsell every click.

“Google shopping isn’t about being the cheapest like Amazon. There is a cost per click so you have to manage that cost,” says Patterson.

Brands need to think about their ROI sweet spot. 

“Every business is different in terms of how much profit they are willing to risk. You might be willing to make a loss on your first order if it’s a subscription business for instance. Others need to be profitable straight away,” he says.

There is a balance to be achieved between underbidding and overbidding. The more you pay, the more you move to the coveted left-hand side of the carousel. Underbid and you won’t show up. Overbidding eats into your profit.

“Around 60-65% of people click on the first spot,” says Patterson. “Consumers think it’s the cheapest, the most reliable or the most trusted, but it’s just the one who has paid more. Underbidding means missing out on sales.”

A granular approach

Bidnamic also takes a more granular approach to bidding. Rather than grouping bids across categories, like shoes, it bids on every product uniquely. If there are 2,000 stock-keeping units (SKUs) then the software bids each one differently, because margins are different on every one.

It is important to understand how consumers use search terms. If someone types a specific size, brand and colour then they probably want it and it is worth paying more for that customer. 

However, different companies have different goals. A brand like Chilly’s wouldn’t pay highly for its own brand name because the searcher is probably going to buy it anyway from somewhere – either directly or from a stockist. 

The beauty of search is that it’s a great leveller: lesser known players can get in front of customers by being smarter about the search terms they use. One company getting results with Bidnamic is a football shirt business that dominates the brands it sells in search when it comes to visibility.  “In detailed search our client is absolutely dominant. The profit comes from here as you don’t need as many clicks to get a sale. You can then take the profit you make on purchase terms and invest more in consideration and awareness.”

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