Google makes it free for sellers to list items on its shopping platform


Google is updating its shopping platform.

Angela Lang/CNET

Google on Tuesday said it’s opening up its shopping platform to make it free for sellers to list their products on the company’s search engine. Previously, search results for the shopping section of the site came from advertisers bidding on specific search terms, like workout gear or rice cookers.

Now, sellers will be able to list products on the shopping tab of the search engine even if they’re not advertisers. The results page will mostly consist of free product listings, though paid product ads will still be shown at the top and bottom of the page, a Google spokesman said. 

The change, which goes into effect nest week, comes as physical retail takes a hit while people hunker down in their homes to combat the coronavirus pandemic. As stores and other businesses have closed their doors, online shopping has come to the forefront to help people buy essential supplies.

Google is also partnering with PayPal to let merchants link their accounts to Google, to speed up the onboarding process, Bill Ready, president of commerce at Google and former COO of PayPal, said in a blog post.

The new tools mark a bigger push for Google into shopping. Last year, the company announced a revamped version of Google Shopping, the search giant’s retail hub. The updated offering lets people browse items and gives them options to buy things either from a retailer’s website, from a nearby physical store, or on Google’s site itself. 

The new shopping changes escalates Google’s rivalry with Amazon. The two tech giants have already been warring on multiple fronts, including smart home technology. Google’s Home smart speaker and Assistant voice software have been sprinting to catch up to Amazon’s Echo and Alexa.

Google has drawn blowback in the past for its shopping efforts. It didn’t help that Google was hit with a $1.7 billion fine from the EU for what the commission called “abusive” ad practices, especially when it came to Google’s shopping product. 

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