Data insights from artificial intelligence (AI) technology can help retailers learn more about their customers — and therefore make better business decisions, improve customer experiences and more accurately plan for the future.
At BigCommerce’s 2021 Make it Big Conference Day 2 keynote session, Google’s President of Commerce Bill Ready and President of Global Customer Solutions Mary Ellen Coe joined BigCommerce VP of Product Marketing Meghan Stabler to discuss how to leverage Google’s AI-powered solutions to help drive your business into the future.
More than a billion shopping sessions happen across Google every day, giving merchants new opportunities to get discovered by consumers across all of Google’s products. In this Make it Big Keynote session, Mary Ellen Coe and Bill Ready offered insights into evolving consumer behaviors and how to tap into Google’s extensive suite of solutions to sell more.
Here are a few key takeaways from Google’s Make it Big keynote:
Meghan Stabler: How have you seen consumer habits change [this year]?
Bill Ready: “There was a decade’s worth of growth in six-months time — which, if you look at the amount of ecommerce that increased in the first six months of the pandemic, it really equates to nearly as much growth as we’ve seen in the prior decade. So for all of 2020, retail was up almost 6%, which was the most growth in well over a decade, despite stores being shut or limited during lockdowns. That means the vast majority of that growth came from ecommerce, which was up 44% last year.
“So the biggest omnichannel retailers — if you look across those, none of them grew overall sales without substantial growth in ecommerce. And we see that continue. Even as we have reopening, we see the strength in ecommerce continuing. Even as things are able to start reopening in many places around the world, We see the strength of ecommerce continuing through that. So the role of digital, both for ecommerce directly as well as driving into the stores, will be really important.
“Even as we have reopening, we see the strength in ecommerce continuing.” — Bill Ready
“I think another part of this is that retailers, now more than ever, need to meet customers where they are. The right channel is the one that works for the customer. And more of this is starting to blur — the link between the digital journey and the in-store journey.
“We’ve all talked about buy online, pickup in store, and these kinds of things. But I think consumers have also seen just how much the digital part of the experience can enhance their shopping journey. And even as people are looking to go back into stores, they’ve got a shopping companion right in their pocket, and we expect more of that kind of blurring of those lines.”
Mary Ellen Coe: “If we look back on 2020, consumers on average were spending eight hours a day online digitally. So you take that and combine that with the shutdown of physical retailing. And we saw pretty significant changes in consumers being online for sources of inspiration.
“For example, 70% of YouTube viewers said they would buy something that they saw on YouTube and as a source of inspiration. When you think about the characteristic browsing, which used to be a physical activity — now we’re seeing that done much more online.
“From a convenience perspective, also significant — a hundred percent — increase in searches for ‘near me’ and things about curbside pickup, et cetera. So both for safety reasons and for convenience, really changing the way that we integrate online and physical retailing.”
MS: What are some of the ways that Google is helping merchants and business owners leverage the data that they have and actually turn that into insights that can be actionable?
BR: “One of those that I’m quite excited to call out is that since BigCommerce and Google have such a great partnership, BigCommerce merchants can use Google Cloud BigQuery, which consolidates all products and marketing data into a single place. And Google’s Recommendations API gives shoppers personalized recommendations based on similar shoppers in past purchases.
“Merchants can also use the Best Seller Report, which shows you the most popular brands and products using Shopping Ads and Free Listings, as well as whether or not you currently carry them in your product feed.
“Another tool is the Price Competitiveness Report, which shows how other retailers are pricing the same products that you sell, and provides guidance when you’re bidding on ads and pricing your products. Both of these reports can be found in the Google Merchant Center.
“We think these are all examples of the aggregate data that we bring across the industry. We can bring insights to your business based on what we see in aggregate across the industry to help you make well-informed decisions for what’s going to be right for your business…”
“[Google] can bring insights to your business based on what we see in aggregate across the industry to help you make well-informed decisions.” — Bill Ready
“In the [new] native integration with BigCommerce, we’ll make it even easier for merchants to leverage Free Listings and Smart Shopping Campaigns to drive success. We’ve talked about how impactful we believe that can be. And a few things to know are that the new integration will automatically sync your BigCommerce store data with Google, making it quick and easy to get started. Any changes you make to your products on your store with BigCommerce are automatically reflected in Google, which makes it easy to keep your ads up to date. And you don’t need to worry about showing outdated product information, given the sync between BigCommerce and Google. You can do the setup directly within BigCommerce, and once your campaign is live, you can track your performance, gain insights and make changes within BigCommerce.”
MS: What’s your top tip for merchants as they continue to navigate through the remainder of 2021?
MEC: “Change is inevitable. And I think if this last year has taught us anything, there can be real silver linings if you’re agile and you’re using all of the tools to get the insights on consumer behavior and on demand. So, using those insights to look at your content strategy, your merchandising strategy, your assortment planning, can be incredibly valuable. I think that’s going to help retailers have a really strong performance going into 2022.”
“There can be real silver linings if you’re agile and you’re using all of the tools to get insights on consumer behavior ” — Marry Ellen Coe
BR: “I would say for merchants — building deeper engagement with your customers. It feels like a simple thing to say, but I think in a digital environment it’s actually more important than ever to think about how you’re building those relationships and engagements with your customers.
“Related to that, I’d say, own your own story and your customer experience leveraging the digital tools available to you — but know that you have your own story and your own experience to build on those things.
“And then finally, I would say building across platforms is critically important, as nobody wants to be in a world where there’s only one place to buy things. This point of saying, ‘How do you meet the user where they are?’ Making sure you’re showing up where they are so those consumers have a choice and you’re able to connect with those customers, I think, is critically important for all of us within the retail community to keep in mind.”
Krystin Gresham is a Content Marketing Manager at BigCommerce where she focuses on thought leadership content. Krystin holds a BBA in Marketing from Texas A&M University. With a background in both retail and tech, Krystin enjoys staying up on the latest retail and technology trends in the ecommerce industry. When she's not crafting content, Krystin enjoys traveling with her husband and volunteering with the Junior League of Austin.