Just in the time for the holiday shopping season, Google is debuting new features to help merchants capture consumers’ attention in search results, including a small business “tag,” generative AI tools for product imagery and a more detailed business information module in search results. The new search features come on the heels of Google announcing the expansion of its AR try-on tech into hair color.
Enhancing the shopper experience is becoming ever more critical for Google as consumers continue to shift over to social media platforms for shopping searches and advertisers follow suit.
Here’s a rundown of Google’s newest shopping enhancements.
A Callout for Small Businesses
With 84% of people saying that supporting local and/or small businesses is important to them, according to a recent Google/Ipsos study, it makes sense that Google wants to make it easier for shoppers to find those companies on its platform. Following in the footsteps of Amazon, which introduced a “small business badge” on its site last year, merchants can now identify themselves with a “small business attribute” in Google Search and Maps.
Any products appearing in search results that are sold by businesses with that attribute will then have a “small business” label on them, as will the businesses themselves on Maps. Google also plans to automatically add the small business attribute to some merchants’ listings based on factors like how many products they offer, the number of locations they have or how much web traffic they get.
AI Tools to Create and Manage Product Imagery
Google is the latest in a raft of digital platforms to roll out generative AI tools to help merchants with their product imagery. Amazon announced its own generative AI image tool last week and Meta made its suite of image tools available to all advertisers in October.
Now Google is rolling out its own set of AI tools designed to help merchants create and manage their product imagery, called Product Studio. The tools will be available first to U.S. Merchant Center Next users and will include an AI-powered text-to-image scene generation feature for product backgrounds. The tool also includes background removal capabilities and features to help improve image resolution. Product Studio will also be available in the Google and YouTube apps for Shopify merchants.
Building Trust with More Details on Merchants
To help shoppers overcome their concerns about buying from a seller they’re unfamiliar with, Google is expanding the type of information shoppers see when they look for businesses on Search.
Starting this month in select countries, the knowledge panel that appears on certain retailer searches — which previously showed details like the location of a business’ headquarters or the number of employees — will start showing other shopping-focused information, including current deals, shipping and return policies, customer service information and ratings and reviews. The knowledge panel will also appear for more merchants than it did previously.