Google’s Martha Welsh Uncovers Ways to Future Proof Your Business at Make it Big 2022
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Now more than ever, shoppers are finding inspiration in new ways and their shopping journeys are becoming much more fluid.
In the midst of trying to keep up with evolving consumer preferences, have you stopped to ask, “Is my business future-ready?”
At BigCommerce’s 2022 Make it Big conference, Martha Welsh, Head of Strategy and Go To Market for Google Commerce & Payments, joined Meghan Stabler, BigCommerce SVP of Product Marketing, to discuss how retailers should be thinking about consumers’ evolving shopping behaviors to prepare for the future of commerce.
If you’ve ever browsed for a new pair of shoes or researched flights for your next vacation on Google, you’re familiar with many of the wide-reaching products Martha’s work touches. Beyond the product, Welsh’s role helps enable the connection between merchants and consumers.
Here are a few future-focused takeaways from her Make it Big session:
Meghan Stabler: Let’s talk about where we are today in 2022 and what the consumer is looking for. What are they looking for when it comes to this experience — this ‘connection’ we’ve started talking about?
Martha Welsh: “One of the things that I find so exciting about ecommerce right now is it’s evolving so much.
“If you think about shopping…shopping has always been about so much more than buying. It’s really been about that inspiration. It’s been about that discovery — whether it was walking the bazaar or, for me, walking the mall.
“Sometimes you go in with the idea of what you’re looking for, but so much of it is about what’s not on your list.”
“Ecommerce, for a long time, was much more utilitarian. It was really just that buying aspect.
“One of the things that we’re seeing is this opportunity to bring that inspiration, that discovery, that delight and that connection between brands and merchants and their customers into the online shopping experience.
“Our Google Search data shows that 65% of shoppers browse online when they’re not looking for anything in particular. This is just where you’re coming and you’re just looking for that inspiration. You’re looking for discovery….and it’s those types of experiences that we’re seeing a ton of across ecommerce.”
MS: To me, it’s a journey, right? I don’t often always start in the same place to go search for something that I’m going to purchase. So what does this modern journey or this modern buying experience look like? What should merchants be thinking about to get involved in that process?
MW: “I think for a long time, shoppers were either online or offline. They started their journey online, and that meant that they were just going to buy it online, or they started offline, and they were just going to go to brick and mortar.
“What we’re seeing is much more fluid journeys now. Users are sometimes starting online and they’re researching products, but then looking to where they can find it nearby, whether they want to try it on, or if you want to see how that end table really looks. Or they’re starting offline in the store, and then they are looking for information about it [online]…
“The other thing we’re seeing is with Google Lens, which I think is just one of the really exciting technologies. You can now be out in the wild and ‘lens’ something…
“Maybe you’re out to brunch with friends and you think, ‘I really like that patio furniture.’ You can take a picture of it, and right there, you can start to see other places that might have that or similar styles. [You can] find stores nearby, both online and offline, where you can go and see those items. I think that’s also one of the ways technology is really creating more fluid journeys across this new omni channel.”
MS: What else is happening in today’s 2022 that we need to start thinking about for 2023 and beyond?
MW: “First, it should come as no surprise that I think once shoppers know what they’re looking for, they’re looking for the best value.
“Now, value doesn’t just mean price, though that’s certainly important. One of the tools we’ve been building for merchants is to be able to have real-time prices and promotions show up across Google services so customers can find those.
“Value also means convenience and saving time. Sometimes that’s, ‘When can I get it by? Can I find it nearby?’ It’s not always just about fast and free shipping, but also, ‘Where else can I find it?’
“It’s also about loyalty programs and easy and secure checkout. These are all sources of value that I think are really important to come through for customers.
“The other trend that we’re seeing is a little bit more nuanced, but I think is related to value in a different way.
“I think customers are increasingly looking for meaningful connections when they shop. They want to understand the value proposition of the brands and merchants that they’re buying from and really create that lasting connection.”
“We’re seeing that come through — that merchants and brands are bringing so much of not just their products and inventory and all of the information about that, but also about who they are, what they stand for.
“Is it sustainably manufactured? Where is it sourced? What’s the story behind it? Who’s selling it? Black-owned. Women-owned. All sorts of attributes that are really important and that customers are looking for as they shop.”
MS: If I’m a merchant and I’m listening to you — where do I start? What is the advice you’d give for these retailers that are trying to innovate today?
MW: “We know that consumers have evolving and growing expectations, so I think it’s really important that retailers are taking advantage of the tools.
“[They can work] with Google Merchant Center [and directly access it through] the integration that we have with BigCommerce. This native integration makes it really seamless for [BigCommerce] merchants to be able to upload all of their inventory with just a matter of clicks to all of the services across Google.
“That can be Gmail, search, YouTube and Google Display Network. Make sure you’re really bringing all of your product inventory to the forefront and using those tools to understand how to take advantage of the features and platforms that can showcase the best of your products and your value proposition.
“There’s a lot of tools out there, and one of the things that we want to do across Google is to really help level the playing field for all merchants.”
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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.