Google on Helping Retailers to Stand Out This Christmas

Christmas Google

Google expands shipping & return annotations in SERPs to help retailers and shoppers to prepare for the holidays.

With the onset of autumn, it will soon be the season when retail goes a little crazy. This year perhaps more than ever and Google has given retailers an early Christmas present.

- The ability to show potential customers they offer special returns and shipping promotions directly in Search Results.

Beforehand the options regarding annotations were sparse at best, the choices either being “fast” or “free”...

Now though, retailers have the ability to add specifics, such as:

  • Free delivery by 24th December
  • Get it by 24th December
  • Free X-day (this refers to shipping promotions within a certain number of days, for example: “Free 1-day shipping”

Eligibility to take advantage of these new features is however dependent on several criteria:

  • An active account in Merchant Centre with products in shopping ads and free listings in North America
  • A Google Ads account with active web conversion
  • Active products in the Merchant Centre account
  • Shipping settings configured for special promotions
  • Product feed attributes shipping_label and transit_time_label
  • A product page and checkout page with messaging that corresponds to the desired annotation

Clarifying refunds & returns

It isn’t just shipping information that matters to potential customers, clear information about refund and return policies can win just as much confidence.

Here again Google has moved away from generic annotations such as “free 30 day returns” and moved much more towards specific dates, such as “free returns until January 31st.” Such returns policies can be associated with a single product or specific groups.

To set up returns annotations, a returns policy must be created in Merchant Centre.

Why now, why so early?

It is a good question but there are equally good answers.

These changes are clearly aimed at the holiday shopping market; Google has noted that searches in North America for terms such as “holiday gift ideas” even in August have clearly surpassed those from the same time last year.

Everything points to shoppers ordering significantly more online this year than in any year before. As Google mentions in their recent Ads & Commerce Blog piece “How retailers can stand out this holiday season” everything points to online shopping being the go-to form of shopping this year.

It will be a challenge though; the worldwide shipping industry has struggled since the COVID-19 pandemic began, furthermore production lines are unreliable.

 If retailers are able to guarantee deliveries by Christmas Eve and earn trust with a clear returns and refund policy, those things can mean a real advantage over their competitors and the best possible experience for users shopping online.

For a range of other tips from Google, aimed at retailers and how to target holiday shoppers with existing features, you can see Google’s announcement here.

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