E-commerce in India used to be a more complicated thing, but it’s now narrowed down to just two big players controlling a vast chunk of the market, along with multiple small operators operating either hyper-locally or with a super-specialization. And while it’s admittedly easy to look for and buy a product on either Amazon India or Flipkart, you may not always know where to go for everything else.
Fortunately, there’s always been Google. A simple search will get you the information you need, but it’s also often cluttered among various other things that you may not necessarily want. Your search will take you through a swathe of information, making you search specifically for the listing you want. This isn’t always easy for everyone, and while millenials that grew up with internet access might know how to effectively ‘Google’ things, the masses find all of those words and lines confusing. That’s where Google Shopping comes in.
What is Google Shopping?
First things first, Google isn’t launching an e-commerce portal of its own. Google Shopping builds on the company’s expertise as a search engine, simply allowing you to filter out everything else and give you specific information you need to buy a product online. It de-clutters the search function, leaving only what is relevant from the buyer’s perspective. You can further sort results by price and seller, and see images, pricing and a short description of every listing without an additional click.
The products are sold by various online retailers, depending on what you search for. The wide range of products offered on platforms such as Amazon India and Flipkart means that these two e-commerce portals will likely dominate most searches, but depending on what you’re looking for, you’ll also see listings from specialist online stores. The homepage – google.com/shopping or shopping.google.com – shows you various listings based on what Google thinks you might be interested in. In my case, I saw smartphone and electronics listings at the top, given that these dominate my Google search history.
How does Google Shopping work?
Right at the top is a search bar, letting you look for anything specific. I’m currently in the market for a new cupboard for my home, so this was my first search on Google Shopping. What I found was a pleasant set of clear listings showing an image of the cupboards, the price and the online store selling it. Apart from the two big names, I also found listings from Pepperfry and Urban Ladder, both of which are specialists in the furniture space. A similar search on the regular Google Search tool shows me a few listings, but a lot of clutter such as Google Maps locations of offline sellers, Indiamart and OLX listings, as well as a bunch of ads.
Clicking on an interesting listing showed me a few more details, including a link to visit the actual seller of the product. In this case, clicking took me to the Flipkart page for the cupboard I liked, allowing me to view more details and complete the purchase if I wish. The Google Shopping tool was therefore much more effective in providing me relevant information and useful links, assuming I was ready to actually buy the product online.
It’s worth noting here that my search was general, so listings were accordingly wide. But what about when you know exactly what you want? Google Shopping can provide you with search links on specific products as well, and I tried to search for a couple of popular smartphones available today, the OnePlus 6T and Xiaomi Poco F1.
The OnePlus 6T is officially available on Amazon India and oneplus.in, but oddly, the official listing can be found much further down the list, while the top listings were smaller sites showing listings for the OnePlus 6. Given that the point of Google Shopping is to promote less popular products and small-to-medium sized portals, this might be smart to an extent.
However, it isn’t always leading you to the most appropriate link, or even the safest place to shop, so some care is required. The Xiaomi Poco F1 produced somewhat better results, with the official Flipkart listings at the top and the Mi.com/in listing also visible down the list somewhere. And when compared to standard Google Search, it definitely helps in de-cluttering the SEO-strong pages that Google would initially push up, while showing you only genuine listings.
WATCH: OnePlus 6T Hands On
Google Shopping: First Impressions
For the time being it’s far from perfect, but Google Shopping definitely has potential if you’re looking for products that aren’t the things you’d typically buy online. Even with more conventional products such as smartphones, Google Shopping can help de-clutter the page and show you only what matters – the listings. The key advantage of saving you time and helping you curate the results to what matters makes Google Shopping a worthwhile site to try out.