21 December 2022
Got something sitting in your cart? Chrome will find the discounts
The Google Chrome browser is adding four new shopping features.
The Google Chrome browser is adding four new shopping features.
New shopping experience features from ecommerce platforms have been just as much a hallmark of this holiday season as discounts. So it’s fitting that Google had one more release to share this month before it’s all wrapped up.
In its latest product update, Google shared new ways that its Chrome browser is making online shopping easier, with a focus on finding ways to save that fits a period of 40-year-high inflation. Check them out below:
This allows people to keep an eye on a special item that they would like to buy, just at a lower price. The new feature allows users to opt-in to receive an email or mobile notification if the price of a certain item decreases.
To activate it, users select “track price” in the Chrome address bar. In the side panel, users can manage the products they are tracking.
The feature is available in the US on desktops and Android devices.
When items are added to a shopping cart, Chrome will automatically find available discount codes and apply them at checkout.
“Pro tip: Just open the New Tab Page anytime you need to track down existing shopping carts and you’ll see available discounts there, too,” writes Sam Birch, product manager for Chrome Shopping.
These features are available on desktop, initially in the US.
See an intriguing item online, but curious to know how much it costs? This feature makes it happen. Chrome desktop users can right-click an item, then select, “Search image with Google Lens.” In the side panel, results will show the item, as well as similar options from various retailers and price ranges. The results will also show whether an item is in stock, or being backordered.
Fast checkout is the key to a great commerce experience. With autofill, Chrome will take care of entering all the details like address and payment, provided they are saved in Google Pay. This comes as the ability to save payment info was expanded to 67 more countries.
Think about Google Shopping, and typically what comes to mind is search through the Google website. But these features point toward Google’s shopping experience extending anywhere on the web. It effectively positions the browser as an always-on ecommerce shopping assistant. What's more, centering the actions around pricing and checkout adds functionality that goes beyond searching for products.
It’s the year’s latest example of how the big ecommerce platforms want to be available for shopping beyond their own sites. Amazon wants to plant its checkout on DTC sites through Buy With Prime. Google is leveraging tools in its own browser. Don’t be surprised to see these plays at ubiquity escalate in 2023. On the web, ecommerce is about to get more embedded.
When it comes to shopping, Google is shipping this year. These are just the latest upgrades to the shopping experience on Google to be released this year. Here’s a look at our running list of more releases from Google:
The retailer's marketplace is expanding quickly.
When it comes to ecommerce growth, was the pandemic a blip or a new trendsetter?
As we move further from the height of COVID-related closures, it’s a question that will start to be answered through the lens of history.
So far, the narrative of ecommerce growth in the U.S. from 2019-2022 has gone like this: Ecommerce’s share of overall retail saw a huge spike at the height of the pandemic in 2020-21, when goods in general were in demand and online shopping was necessary to preserve health and safety. Experts looked out and saw a permanent exponential change in the penetration of ecommerce as a share of retail that would last beyond the pandemic. Then, in 2022, everyone went back to stores and the trendline came back to 2019 levels. Growth was no longer exponential. There was still growth, but it was not happening as fast as during the pandemic period.
With this in mind, it’s worth pointing out that 2023 is the first year that there likely won’t be a pandemic-influenced swing to influence ecommerce growth. It is also a year where demand has suffered challenges amid inflation and interest rate hikes.
So as we seek to determine the importance of ecommerce to overall retail, it’s worth it to continue taking a close look at what growth trends retailers are seeing now, whether ecommerce is remaining resilient amid consumer pullback and how retailers are preparing for the future.
The latest example arrived this week from Macy’s. It’s a fitting one for the times. Overall, Macy’s is seeing a slowdown as consumers pull back on discretionary purchases, with sales declining 7% in the first quarter versus the same quarter of 2022. Digital sales were down 8%.
Macy’s is particularly susceptible to the macroeconomic headwinds that many brands and retailers are facing, as spending among the middle-income consumers it counts as a primary customer base is particularly softening, said GlobalData Managing Director Neil Saunders.
But while ecommerce is slowing overall, the importance it gained to Macy’s business during the pandemic is remaining in place.
In 2019, ecommerce made up 25% of Macy’s revenue, CEO Jeff Gennette told analysts on the company’s earnings call. That jumped to a high of 44% in 2020. By 2022, digital reached 33% of sales after the pandemic boom. In the first quarter of 2023, it remained at 33%. So, while the trend line dipped after shoppers returned to stores, ecommerce share still settled in at a higher post-lockdown point than it was before the pandemic.
This came in a quarter in which traffic was “relatively good” across both online and in-store, Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette said. It was “flattish” online, and slightly up in stores.
“We do expect that this is the reset year with the penetration between them,” Gennette said. “But we do expect more aggressive growth in digital in the future versus stores as we think about '24 and beyond. And that's going to be foisted by a lot of ideas and strategies.
Over the last year, the retailer has made investments in boosting ecommerce, even as shoppers returned to stores. In a bid to boost the assortment of goods available online, Macy’s launched a marketplace in September 2022 that welcomes goods from third-party sellers.
The marketplace had an “outstanding” first quarter, said Macy’s President Tony Spring, who is poised to succeed Gennette as CEO next year. Gross merchandise value increased over 50% when compared to the fourth quarter of 2022, while the average order value and units per order for marketplace customers was 50% above those not shopping at the marketplace.
Macy’s is continuing to build the marketplace even as it racks up sales. The retailer added 450 brands, ending the quarter with 950 brands.
This is helping to draw in new customers, as well as younger existing customers who are buying more items, resulting in increased basket size.
“We're very excited as to how marketplace is really attracting the Gen Z customer, particularly in categories where it was not economically feasible for us to carry in the past,” Gennette said.
In the end, Gennette said a strong digital and social presence is key to attracting younger consumers. That's a different type of shopper than other age groups.
“We know the younger customer starts first online,” Gennette said. That behavior will still be in place as the generation gets older, and gains more buying power in the process.
Going forward, Macy’s is seeking to expand the model to other retail banners in its portfolio. Bloomingdale’s will open a marketplace in the early fall.
The Macy’s ecommerce trajectory isn’t that different from the wider U.S. ecommerce narrative detailed above. With one quarter of 2023 data, there is evidence that ecommerce share settled out at a higher point after the pandemic than where it started before COVID arrived. There is flattening now, but the retailer is taking it not as a sign of a slowdown, or a signal to change course. Rather, it sees changing consumer behavior as a reason to build for the future.