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The holidays are always a time for sales. This year, many retailers are gearing up for a particularly promotional environment. Peak season is arriving at a time of elevated inflation, leaving many brands and retailers battling for dwindling discretionary dollars.
Against this backdrop, Google is rolling out new features to the shopping experience in the coming weeks that are designed to make it easier for shoppers to find holiday deals.
Here’s a look:
New labels for coupons and promotions will make discounts newly prominent, Google said. In particular, a new badge that advertises a deal will display in search. It will show a "Special Offer" in the top left corner of a search listing. This adds the ability to view specific promotions to the existing markers for sales and price drops.
Coupon clipping will allow consumers to easily copy and paste promo codes directly from a product listing when they are ready to buy at checkout.
Deal comparison displays results in search that show available deals for a specific item. Google uses the example of search for “puffer coat.” Google search will show “a side-by-side comparison of available puffer coat deals right in your results,” the company said.
Price insights will also be added to search results, providing a way to see how one merchants’ prices compare to another, and whether it is low, high or typical for a product.
More shopping upgrades
These are the latest recent shopping additions from Google. In recent weeks, the company has shared the following updates:
- Launched new search featuresthat integrate shopping with the main search experience, and make results more visible, including on desktop.
- Shared insights and tools to help merchants get ready for the holidays.
- Expanded enhanced ecommerce experiences to more ecommerce sites.
- Upgraded shopping ads to create a more visual experience.
- Rolled out new measurement toolsto determine the impact of free listings.
Trending in Shopper Experience
Labor disputes on the West Coast could cause further disruption heading into peak season.
When the first half of 2023 is complete, imports are expected to dip 22% below last year.
That’s according to new data from the Global Port Tracker, which is compiled monthly by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
The decline has been building over the entire year, as imports dipped in the winter. With the spring, volume started to rebound. In April, the major ports handled 1.78 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units. That was an increase of 9.6% from March. Still it was a decline of 21.3% year over year – reflecting the record cargo hauled in over the spike in consumer demand of 2021 and the inventory glut 2022.
In 2023, consumer spending is remaining resilient with in a strong job market, despite the collision of inflation and interest rates. The economy remains different from pre-pandemic days, but shipping volumes are beginning to once again resemble the time before COVID-19.
“Economists and shipping lines increasingly wonder why the decline in container import demand is so much at odds with continuous growth in consumer demand,” said Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett, in a statement. “Import container shipments have returned the pre-pandemic levels seen in 2019 and appear likely to stay there for a while.”
Retailers and logistics professionals alike are looking to the second half of the year for a potential upswing. Peak shipping season occurs in the summer, which is in preparation for peak shopping season over the holidays.
Yet disruption could occur on the West Coast if labor issues can’t be settled. This week, ports from Los Angeles to Seattle reported closures and slowdowns as ongoing union disputes boil over, CNBC reported. NRF called on the Biden administration to intervene.
“Cargo volume is lower than last year but retailers are entering the busiest shipping season of the year bringing in holiday merchandise. The last thing retailers and other shippers need is ongoing disruption at the ports,” aid NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “If labor and management can’t reach agreement and operate smoothly and efficiently, retailers will have no choice but to continue to take their cargo to East Coast and Gulf Coast gateways. We continue to urge the administration to step in and help the parties reach an agreement and end the disruptions so operations can return to normal. We’ve had enough unavoidable supply chain issues the past two years. This is not the time for one that can be avoided.”