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Christmas stocking and gifts being prepared

Getting Ready for the Peak Season: Optimisation Tips for your Shopping Campaigns

Radhika Shashank, Account Lead, Google Shopping | Expertise series [April 2021]

Over the last few years,  a growing  number of consumers have looked forward to the holiday season to do their shopping, with online channels becoming increasingly relevant across Europe. In 2020, in countries like the UK, 84% of shoppers are using online sources to support their product research and purchases vs. 76% in 20191. This trend may be particularly relevant for the holiday period; over 70% of UK shoppers who intend to shop this holiday season said that they will shop online more than they did in previous years, while 81% out of those said that they would search for gift ideas online and not in store2. In general, the  number of online shopping searches has risen significantly during the previous months3. Despite the changes, the holiday season is expected to continue being a period of relatively high demand, when online retailers have the opportunity to connect more with their customers and create better shopping experiences for them. This dynamic online demand also presents an opportunity for businesses to plan ahead and adopt best practices when creating their Shopping campaigns.

At Google Shopping (CSS), we aim to help our customers sell more and sell better by providing Shopping campaign optimisation advice and best practice guidance that can be used especially throughout peak seasons. By working closely with a large number of merchants across Europe, we’ve been able to identify some key online shopping trends, which are particularly relevant for the optimisation of seasonal Shopping campaigns this year. In this article, we are sharing a summary with you, to help you prepare and improve your Shopping campaigns, considering some useful tips and a practical pre-peak checklist!

3 key trends to keep in mind when optimising your Shopping campaigns

As shoppers’ paths to purchase continue to evolve and become more complex, particularly this year, the Google Shopping team has identified some trends to help you prepare and improve your Shopping campaigns during periods of high demand, like this holiday season.

  1. Relevance of Sales and Discounts

    As price is an important factor for many online shoppers4, highlighting sales and discounts could help merchants attract more customers. For Shopping campaigns, that means that it is important that promotions are well highlighted with the sale price annotations and that they are set-up in advance with the attributes [sale_price] and  [sale_price_effective_date] in the Google Merchant Center. As online shoppers may be on the lookout for site wide discounts that need a promotion code, “free gifts” or “free shipping’’, it is recommended to use Merchant Promotions to draw attention to  these offers. In Europe, Merchant Promotions are currently available in France, Germany and the UK.

  2. Increase in mobile shopping activity

    As the number of consumers who search and shop on their mobile devices grows, it is important for merchants to respond accordingly.  76% of smartphone users are more likely to purchase from companies whose mobile sites or apps allow them to make purchases quickly5. For Shopping campaigns, this increase in mobile usage means that it is key for a merchant's site to be optimised for mobile and set up correctly for a seamless shopping experience. Even when it comes to in-store purchases, a large number of consumers conduct relevant research on their mobile devices before heading to a store. Publicly available tools, like  Test My Site, can be a useful resource for businesses to measure their website's performance across different devices, from mobile to desktop. Having a mobile-optimised website can help you create a seamless holiday shopping experience for your customers.

  3. Importance of free shipping and other attributes

    Free shipping can be an important factor for many shoppers when making an online purchase. When it comes to Shopping campaigns, that means that it is important to consider using the shipping attribute in the Google Merchant Center, which allows you to provide the delivery cost for a product. Providing accurate shipping costs and expected delivery times can lead to a better user experience and make customers feel more confident about  ordering online.

Christmas gifts

Checklist for peak season Shopping campaigns

Peak is a challenging time for most businesses – new Shopping campaigns are being created and budgets are being adjusted, while inventory and shipping become the centre of attention. Planning and preparation are key for a successful peak season. To support you in getting better prepared for the high seasonal demand, we’ve created a checklist with 5 key points that you can pay attention to when you build your Shopping campaigns in the weeks leading to the seasonal peak.

  1. Feed Testing

    Make sure your feed in the Google Merchant Center is set up correctly and any basic disapprovals that prevent products from going live are removed around one month before the seasonal event.

    Some basic issues to resolve as a priority:

    a) Invalid GTINs (Global Trade Item Number): Adding in the correct GTINs will enable your items to serve. However, if you do not have the right GTINs, then it is recommended to remove the invalid ones, so products can be partially approved and start serving.

    b) Price Mismatch: Price mismatches might affect your sales. A regular update on your price and availability is highly advised. You can also turn on automatic updates if you have a Schema setup.

  2. Items with no impressions or clicks

    You can create a new high priority campaign, or a Smart Shopping campaign, with the items that have not received any impressions or clicks in 90 days. This way, you will give more visibility to these products and can start getting their data history. This is a good way to discover some new potential bestsellers or revenue opportunities. Using automated bidding on these  campaigns will help the platform work towards a target ROAS or maximise conversions.

  3. Know the Trends

    It is important for businesses to keep up with industry trends and online demand, especially in this year’s challenging landscape. There are a number of useful tools that can help you stay on top of what’s going on in your market. For example, Google Trends can be used for monitoring  growing consumer queries and Rising Retail Categories is relevant for identifying the fast-rising retail categories in Google Search and the searches associated with them. The Bestseller Report in your Google Merchant Center account can show you the trending items per category, while the Price Competitiveness report – also available in your Google Merchant Center account – can help you understand how price competitive your products are.

  4. Automation

    Select the ROAS values for your Shopping campaigns as early as possible. This period is a great opportunity to test Automation in your campaigns and see how it performs in a dynamic auction.

  5. Measuring Campaign Success

    Make sure you are measuring the right success metrics before, during and after the Shopping campaign is set up. This will give you a good understanding of your Shopping campaign’s performance. For example, if optimising profit margins is a key success metric for you, then focusing on setting up and measuring the right target ROAS will be important when monitoring the performance of your Shopping campaigns.

1 & 4 Think with Google: ‘8 ways consumers in the U.K. adapted their shopping behaviour this year’ (August 2020).

2 & 3 Think with Google: ‘How the pandemic may affect holiday shopping’ (August 2020).

5 Think with Google: ‘Here's what to do when your retail website becomes your primary storefront’ (May 2020).

This article was published by Google Shopping (CSS). Google Shopping is Google's CSS and a Premium CSS Partner.