Shopper Experience

Google adds shipping, returns info to shopping listings

Merchants can show the info right alongside pricing.

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Photo by Alex Dudar on Unsplash

In ecommerce, logistics are a customer-facing function. The latest proof comes from Google.

The search engine is expanding the display of information about shipping and returns in product listings on merchant sites. This is designed to provide consumers with all of the information not just about what a product is and how much it costs, but also when it will arrive and how easy it is to send back if it’s not quite right.

“When shopping, people want to know the total price for the products they're purchasing, including the shipping price. Shipping speed, cost, and return policy are major factors considered by shoppers when buying products online,” a Google Search Central update states. “Often, consumers will not complete a purchase because the shipping cost is too high, the shipping speed is not fast enough, or return information isn't clear. Therefore, displaying shipping and return information clearly up front is critical for the success of your online sales.”

The functionality is available in the U.S., and will soon roll out in other countries.

Google said it is also making it easier to monitor and fix the structured data required to enable the shipping and returns display. Google will send warnings to merchants that don’t have the information, or when it was added incorrectly.

The shipping and returns information can now be displayed next to product pricing info at the bottom of a listing.

A google product listing with shipping and returns info addedShipping and returns info on a Google listing. (Courtesy photo)

The new feature comes at a time when return policies appear to be in a state of flux. Consumers are accustomed to free and flexible returns from ecommerce platforms that sought to make buying online seamless, but mounting logistics costs and higher return rates are pressuring bottom lines at brands and retailers. That’s prompting leaders to rethink the longstanding freebies. Last week, The Information reported that Amazon will begin charging a $1 fee for returns made to a UPS store when there is a Whole Foods, Amazon Fresh or Kohl’s closer to the delivery address. While this looks like a targeted test, it’s a reminder that return policies aren’t always uniform. So making it easy for consumers to access information can also provide a clearer path to clicking “Buy.”

This is the first significant shopping feature to roll out from Google in 2023 following a busy 2022. Last year, the company made a host of upgrades to shopping listings, as it sought to embed commerce within the primary search experience. The updates ranged from augmented reality shopping tools to price comparison. Given that flurry of activity, this likely won’t be the last feature update of the year.
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