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Last year, we introduced product ratings on Product Listing Ads in the US to help consumers make better purchase decisions when shopping online. Since the initial launch, we’ve been working to bring product ratings to more countries, and this week we launched in the UK, France and Germany.

Product ratings appear in the form of stars and review counts on Product Listing Ads across google.com, google.com/shopping and their equivalents in the UK, France and Germany. This 5-star rating system represents aggregated review data for the product, compiled from multiple sources including merchants, third-party aggregators, editorial sites and users.

Product ratings for juicers, as indicated by stars and total review counts
Product ratings help consumers make better purchase decisions before they click, driving more qualified traffic to participating merchants. Since the US launch in July 2014, we’ve seen an average click-through rate increase of five percent on Product Listing Ads with product ratings.

Product ratings also help merchants differentiate their Product Listing Ads. Dave Abbott, Vice President of Online Marketing for The Home Depot, says, “customers look for product validation through reviews and ratings. Providing this info is valuable to our customers and provides The Home Depot with a competitive advantage on Google.”

How to enable product ratings on your Product Listing Ads

Product ratings are available to merchants targeting their Product Listing Ads to the US, UK, France or Germany. Merchants must share all of their product review content with Google, either directly or through an approved third-party aggregator, in order to show product ratings.

If you would like to enable product ratings on your Product Listing Ads, please start the process of submitting your review content to us by completing our product ratings form. Our team will then reach out to you with details on next steps.

Product ratings are one of several extensions we may show with Product Listing Ads, so please note that just because a product has reviews does not mean that we’ll always show ratings. We’re also working to expand product ratings to more countries this year, so please stay tuned.

Posted by Archana Kannan, Product Manager, Google Shopping

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The customer is always right, at least that’s what they say.

If you believe in that, then stores must acknowledge the reality that shoppers really, really like their smartphones. They carry and shop with them wherever they go—to the bathroom, to competitor stores, everywhere. What’s a retailer to do?

You have three options: Do nothing, resist change, or embrace it. Macy’s Inc, the world’s largest fashion retailer, chose the latter. Since Mar. 2010, their stock is up 240%. How did they do it?

Their success is due in part to fusing their “multi-channel” approach into a singularly focused omni-channel one. “We used to have two separate, siloed budgets,” explains Serena Potter, group vice president of digital media strategy at Macy’s. “Now we really only have one marketing budget. We look at what’s the best way to spend that; whether it’s digital or offline, and focus on how they work together to deliver the most sales and the best customer experience.”

In other words, Macy’s Inc and others like them no longer compete with their online or offline selves. They don’t fear showrooming, get anxious when a smartphone shopper consults her phone in the aisle, or fret when a consumer jumps from one channel to another mid-sale. They view these realities as new opportunities; new moments to interact with consumers and increase loyalty.

There’s upside in doing so. Smartphone or omni-channel shoppers have 30% higher lifetime value than single-channel shoppers, according to a recent study from market researcher IDC.1 How can retailers understand and convert these higher value shoppers?

The answer: Omni-measurement. In order to realize success, retailers must increase their understanding of omni-shopper behavior. Omni-measurement not only does this, but it enables mouth-watering marketing programs, including predictive campaigns, site-to-store funnelling (and vice versa), enhanced purchase frequency, and automated messaging and product recommendations.

Leading retailers such as Macy’s, Office Depot, PetSmart, Sprint and others are increasingly turning to Google measurement tools such as Adometry, DoubleClick, and AdWords Store Visits, and Store Transactions for a complete view of consumer behavior across all paths, channels, and beyond just clicks.

For example, Sprint discovered that paid search ads drove five in-store sales for each online sale.2 Knowing that, the company increased their focus and deepened their understanding of the role smartphones play in the purchasing journey. With AdWords Store Visits enabled, Sprint achieved a 31% higher visit rate3 from mobile search ad clicks versus desktop search ad clicks. This knowledge was instrumental in helping the carrier create a more seamless online to in-store experience recently.

“Over the last several years, we’ve really thought about how that experience when a consumer gets into the store can continue to build on that bridge we’ve made in digital,” says Evan Conway, Sprint’s vice president of digital. “We’ve looked at the transactions and conversations that our sales associates were already having with the consumer and then we tried to build the tools, technology, and content to make the in-store experience better.”

PetSmart, too, was better able to omni-measure foot traffic using Store Visits reporting in AdWords. For them, the data revealed that 10–18% of all search ad clicks resulted in an in-store visit within 30 days.4

"As a national retailer building a sophisticated local marketing strategy, PetSmart has seen tremendous value in Store Visits data. This data has helped solve an incomplete puzzle,” says Phil Bowman, PetSmart's executive vice president. “Historically, we’ve relied on numerous approximations to tell us how our search ads were driving store visits, but this data has validated our estimates. It helps us understand the full picture of where our customers are going after clicking a search ad."

When they’re not helping retailers understand how online ads impact in-store behavior, Google tools help merchandisers promote nearby inventory online, another crucial demand of omni-shoppers. In other words, retailers can now “think local” in ways that have never been done before.

For instance, Office Depot achieved a 3X return on digital marketing spend after switching to Local Inventory Ads.5 "Now, we are able to reach customers when they search for a product," says Christine Buscarino, vice president of ecommerce marketing for Office Depot, Inc. “Local inventory ads provide us with a unique opportunity to offer products that customers are searching for and assure them there is inventory in a nearby store."

Of course, these are just a few examples of leading retailers embracing the omni-channel movement to meet the expectations of today’s consumer. And they’re doing it with the help of Google ad formats and measurement tools.

Learn more about how leading retailers are connecting with today’s connected consumer here.

Posted by Emily Eberhard Pereira, Head of Shopping Solutions Marketing.

1IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Retail 2015 Predictions. November 2014
2Sprint Internal Data
3AdWords Store Visits Data
4AdWords Store Visits Data
5AdWords Store Visits Data
6IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Retail 2015 Predictions. November 2014

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When it comes to brick and mortar stores, misinformation runs rampant.

For instance, search results only send consumers to e-commerce sites, retailers lose the shopper who checks a phone in store, and buyers only visit stores to transact or showroom. Those are three common myths debunked in Digital’s Impact on In-Store Shopping1, new research conducted by Ipsos MediaCT and Sterling Brands for Google, based upon purchasing behaviors of more than 6,000 smartphone shoppers.

Although 95% of all retail transactions still occur in-store2, smartphones have quickly become consumer’s favorite and most trusted “shopping assistant.” These handy devices reduce buyers’ remorse, raise consumer expectations for getting more accurate and faster information from store associates, and present new challenges for hungry retailers.

For instance:
  • 68% of shoppers surveyed said they were happier with store purchases when they did research online before buying, according to those surveyed
  • 71% expect clerks to know or find product information more quickly now, due to smartphones
  • 46% of smartphone shoppers browse the retailer’s own site or app in-store
But when paired with a consistent shopping experience — specifically mobile optimized, locally relevant, and personalized search results — these same “shopping assistants” can become as powerful to sellers as they are to buyers, the research found.

In fact, they’ve helped double the value of in store visit,3 increase customer satisfaction (69% of consumers are more satisfied with purchases when they get to touch or feel a product in-store), and they’ve given retailers more opportunities to build brand loyalty (51% said they used digital devices to look for additional information after buying).

For instance, Sears Hometown & Outlet Stores saw a 16% higher clickthrough rate and 122% increase in visits to its stores after adopting Local Inventory Ads, which lets retailers display nearby store inventory to online shoppers.4 “Local inventory ads fit perfectly into our strategy of using digital tools to drive store traffic,” says David Buckley, chief marketing officer at Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores. “If people are searching for a product on their phones, there is nothing more targeted than serving that item with a picture, description, and price while letting the customers know exactly how far they are located from the product.”

The technology also helps Sears extend the reach of its advertising budget, driving $8 of in store sales for each dollar invested online.5 “When we compared our most recent performance of local inventory ads to offline media typically used to drive store sales, such as a recent broadcast television campaign,” Buckley explains, “local inventory ads returned in-store sales at more than 5X the rate of tv advertising for each dollar spent.6

Similarly, Staples saw their store visit and ad click thru rates increase by 33% and 29% respectively, after indicating nearby stock in their search listings.

“Local Inventory Ads are another way Staples helps customers shop whenever and however they want through our omnichannel,” said Ellen Comley, vice president, integrated media, Staples, Inc. “We know that more and more customers are doing research online before buying, and local inventory ads make it easier for us to reach small businesses and ensure we’re providing the most relevant offers.”

Of course, those are just a few examples. In addition to identifying other ways smartphones are changing modern shopping, Digital’s Impact on In-Store Shopping outlines several steps retailers can take to optimize their online presence for smartphones:

5 things brick and mortar stores should do now
  1. Use Local Inventory Ads to promote nearby stock to interested buyers, including availability of complementary and recommended products
  2. Be sure to list store locations, hours, and phone numbers in online search ads
  3. Optimize online presence for mobile viewing and buying, including search results, website, app, and mobile ads to engage consumers while in store
  4. Localize and integrate custom offers and product recommendations to smartphone shoppers that disclose their location
  5. Take an omni-channel approach to marketing and measurement by combining your online and physical efforts into one (see also: Macy’s Inc)
There’s no denying that smartphone shoppers are looking at competing offers while in store, the research concludes. But a greater percentage of shoppers look to search engine results and a retailer’s own sites and apps first. To take advantage, retailers must acknowledge, react to, and consolidate their multi-channel approach into a “mobile first” omni-channel one.

Learn more about how top retailers are using digital to connect people with their stores here.


Posted by Emily Eberhard Pereira, Head of Shopping Solutions Marketing


1Google/Ipsos MediaCT/Sterling Brands, Digital Impact on In-Store Shopping, October 2014
2eMarketer: Total US Retail Sales Top $4.5 Trillion in 2013, Outpace GDP Growth, April 2014
3Shoppertrak 2014 foot traffic and Mastercard SpendPulse transaction Data  2010 thru 2014
4AdWords Store Visits Data. 2015
5Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores Data. 2015
6Sear’s Hometown and Outlet Stores Data. 2015

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We first introduced Google Wallet's tap and pay feature in 2011, and since then, mobile payments have grown rapidly. You can use the Google Wallet app on Android devices, on any carrier network, to tap and pay anywhere NFC is accepted. Over the years, we've received great feedback from people who use this feature and we’ve continued investing to make it easy and secure for more people to pay with their phones. A big part of this is working with other innovators in the industry to help provide a seamless experience across a wide range of phones and stores.

So today, we’re excited to announce that we're working with AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless, as well as their mobile payments company Softcard, to help more Android users get the benefits of tap and pay. Under this relationship, the Google Wallet app, including the tap and pay functionality, will come pre-installed on Android phones (running KitKat or higher) sold by these carriers in the US later this year. We’re also acquiring some exciting technology and intellectual property from Softcard to make Google Wallet better.

From tap and pay to storing loyalty and gift cards to sending money to friends, we've been working hard to make the Google Wallet app even more useful to you -- and there's lots more to come.

Posted by Ariel Bardin, Vice President of Payments


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When shoppers search for the best deals online, they want to know the full cost of an item -- including the cost of shipping. In fact, we’ve seen that unexpected shipping costs are a common reason for users abandoning their online shopping purchases. That’s why we’ve been focused on making it even easier for you to showcase the right shipping cost to online shoppers, when they’re ready to buy.

Carrier-calculated rates in Google Merchant Center are an easy and convenient way to set up accurate shipping rates if you use one of the supported carriers. In the US, several major carriers recently announced that they’ve begun applying dimensional weight pricing when calculating the rates of their shipments. With this change, package pricing not only factors in the weight of the package, but also its dimensions.

To help you show accurate shipping rates for your items, we’re introducing support for dimensional weight shipping rates in Google Merchant Center. This update lets you define the dimensions of your packages used in shipping taking into account the length, width, and height of a package -- in addition to the weight you already provide.

We’ve created three new attributes that you can add to your product data to provide the dimensions of shipping packages for an item: ‘shipping length’, ‘shipping width’, and ‘shipping height’. Starting today, when you include these attributes, Google will calculate carrier-calculated shipping rates for supported carriers by taking into account dimensional weights. This ensures that calculated rates reflect dimensional shipping rates to provide users with the most accurate costs.

To learn more about dimensional shipping, visit our Help Center article, and select ‘United States’ at the top.

Posted by Sven Herschel, Product Manager, Google Merchant Center

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Since we announced Send Money in Gmail, paying back your friends has never been so simple, whether you’re chipping in for lunch or reimbursing your housemate for your share of the rent. Today, we're excited to make this feature available for Gmail users in the UK.
This means people in the UK will now be able to quickly and securely send money to friends and family in the UK directly within desktop Gmail -- even if the recipient doesn't have a Gmail address. Sending and receiving money in Gmail is free and easy. To send money in Gmail, hover over the attachment paperclip, click the £ icon to attach money to your message, enter the amount you wish to send, and press send. You can also request money in Gmail by hovering over the attachment paperclip and clicking the £ icon to attach the request to a Gmail message.



When you receive money for the first time, you’ll need to claim it by setting up a Google Wallet Balance and linking your debit card or bank account. After that, your money can be kept in your Wallet Balance for later sending, for spending on Google Play, or you can quickly transfer it to your bank account.

We’re rolling out this feature over the coming weeks to all UK Gmail users over 18 years old, so keep an eye out for the £ icon in the attachment options. Learn more at google.co.uk/wallet.
Posted by Travis Green, Product Manager, Google Wallet

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December of 2014 may be remembered as the first truly omni-channel holiday season: the year retailers really stretched the sales funnel to include mobile, store visits and online buying under one big connected holiday umbrella.

Let's take a break from the holiday dash to see what we can learn from companies that have been creating unified shopping experiences for consumers while ringing in bigger and better profits for themselves. We'll start with a salute to three great examples of omni-channel thinking: Macy's, Sephora and REI.

Macy's

When over 15,000 people streamed into Macy's main New York City store at 6 pm this Thanksgiving Day, CEO Terry Lundgren wasn't too surprised. Omni-channel helped put those shoppers there. “So far, people are gravitating to the doorbusters," Lundgren said the next day. "There’s so much information online, so they’re doing that research and going right for those doorbusters."1

Macy's has been working for years to focus its marketing and retail teams into a group with a single vision on omni-channel conversions just like these.



"That incentive, of growing the number of omni-channel customers, is something we have shared over the last couple of years," says Jennifer Kasper, Macy's Group VP for Digital Media and Multi-cultural Marketing.

Sephora

"In retail, you can't think of mobile as a threat. You have to think about it as a magnet to draw that client into your store." That quote from Bridget Dolan, Sephora's VP Interactive Media, says it all about how Sephora has been winning with omni-media.

Sephora's progressive approach is the result of watching, and actually listening to, its customers. Today the Sephora mobile app lets shoppers scan products right off the shelf and see if they're right for their look. They can also look up past purchases, in case they want that same great shade of lipstick or eye shadow again.



New research shows that 46% of shoppers who use mobile devices in-store say they turn to the retailer’s site or app for information while they shop.2 "I really can't believe how much of our traffic is now coming from mobile devices," says Bridget Dolan, "and how many of our clients are using search as the way that they figure out which products they want to buy while they're standing in-store."

REI

The trusted outdoor retailer’s stores – especially its flagship locations -- are paradise for anyone who plays outside. REI now uses digital as a way to pull customers right into that local store experience.  After researching online, REI customers come into the store to try on those hiking boots or skis and then make the purchase.



Google/Ispos/Sterling research shows 69% of shoppers say they gather information from physical stores at some point in their shopping cycle.3 "One of the things we know definitively is that all of our digital tools really connect our members to our stores," says Annie Zipfel, SVP of Marketing for REI. "So they're often researching product online… and ultimately they're coming in the store to make that purchase."

What can we take away from these three examples of omni-channel success?

1) Care less about where. All three of these retailers are focused on using all channels to drive sales — wherever those sales might happen. As Jennifer Kasper of Macy's puts it, "The bottom line is, we're indifferent to whether [a shopper] converts in the store or online. We just want her to shop with Macy's."

2) Make mobile a magnet. The best omni-channel retailers make mobile a part of their in-store experience, inviting shoppers to use their hand-held devices as they browse. As Bridget Dolan of Sephora says, "We really welcome our clients to take out their phones in our store. A client that really knows exactly what she's buying, all the reviews, all her options... is actually a happier client and will come back and shop with you more often."

3) Bring down internal barriers. Annie Zipfel of REI says, "It is a smaller and smaller group that shops only in the store, or only online." If you still keep separate online and offline marketing teams, it may be time to think about bringing them, and their incentives, together so they can speak to customers in the way those customers shop now.

Happy omnidays, retailers!

Posted by Julie Krueger, Retail Industry Director

Visit the Local Retail Playbook to see our new “Digital Impact On In-Store Shopping” research about how consumers are shopping on and offline, and how retailers are responding this holiday season.

1"CEOs of Target, Macy's, and Others Weigh In on Black Friday Sales." Fortune.com, November 28, 2014. http://goo.gl/lz3s0t
2"Digital Impact on In-Store Shopping." Google/Ipsos MediaCT/Sterling Brands, October 2014. http://goo.gl/4TU0sY
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