How to Make the Most of Google’s New Shopping Insights Tool

The feature analyzes data to help retailers discover the products on customers’ wish lists.
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Google’s Shopping Insights helps small business owners and marketers learn exactly what their customers want. (Photo: Willy Barton/Shutterstock)

Managing inventory is a tricky thing for storeowners. If you don’t stock enough of a popular product, customers get frustrated and you miss out on profits. On the other hand, having excess merchandise might force you to sell products at a loss. How can you figure out exactly what customers want to buy throughout the year?

There’s no crystal ball for retailers, but Google’s recently updated Shopping Insights tool might be the next best thing.

“Google’s Shopping Insights tool is the perfect data source for small business owners and marketers alike to learn exactly what their customers want at any given time,” said Morgan Bachemin, digital ads director at Online Optimism, a New Orleans-based advertising agency.

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With information on retail-related searches for more than 55,000 products, 45,000 brands and 5,000 categories, Shopping Insights offers data-backed clues about what customers are thinking of buying. Here’s how to leverage the free tool to boost profits at your store.

Compare brand popularity

Wondering which brands might sell well at your store? Shopping Insights can compare the popularity of up to four brands over time.

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“Shopping Insights can give retailers the knowledge they need to scale up or down when ordering products for their businesses throughout the year.” – Morgan Bachemin of Online Optimism

“If you carry multiple brands of a certain product type, Shopping Insights gives you information around exactly which brands are appearing most in searches, or if people are even searching for the products you carry by brand name at all,” said Bachemin.

Perhaps you notice a particular brand of chocolate has been growing in popularity over the last six months. Next time you put in an order for your candy aisle, it might be worth increasing how much you stock from that brand.

“Shopping Insights can give retailers the knowledge they need to scale up or down when ordering products for their businesses throughout the year,” she said.

Stock up at the right time

Understanding what products might be popular is just the start of maximizing profits; you also need to assess when customer demand for particular items will peak. Look at the historical data on Shopping Insights for tips on when to stock up on certain products, brands and categories, said Bachemin.

“One of our clients is an online tire retailer, and we’ve seen tire sales go up at the onset of winter and again in the spring and summertime,” she explained. “Having that yearlong interface allows us to determine when to pull back and when to be more aggressive.”

Not only can you see data for customer demand over time, you can also search by specific holidays (such as Father’s Day, Halloweenand Chinese New Year). Leverage this information to capitalize on the biggest shopping days of the year.

Target your advertisements

No business can afford to waste money on ineffective advertisements. Looking at the Shopping Insights data on customer searches by location can drive the strategy behind who you target your ads toward.

“If a specific product is selling more in one market, don’t waste your advertising efforts targeting in less popular locations,” said Bachemin. “Learn which products are popular in each market and target your ads accordingly.”

Thinking of expanding your business into another market? The location data from Shopping Insights could also be used in determining the best place to open your next location — along with the best assortment of merchandise to stock at that particular store, she added.

Optimize your site

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What are your customers searching for online? (Photo: tongcom photographer/Shutterstock)

While most retailers will focus on the data about brands and categories, don’t ignore the Shopping Insights statistics on the devices customers are using to make their searches.

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“The tool will show you how many people are searching for certain things on their mobile device or desktop,” said Bachemin. “This information can influence your web design, social media, advertisements and promotions.”

Determining the devices customers are using to discover your products can help you strategize the information you present in your online store. Since purchases made on mobile devices tend to be more instantaneous and spur of the moment, make sure you optimize your product shots and bullet the information to make it appealing on a small screen.

“Whereas on a desktop, it might be useful to make your product detail page prominent so people can easily comparison shop and get all the information they need to make a purchase,” she said.

Keep the data in perspective

Google’s Shopping Insights feature gives you unprecedented access to aggregate data about retail trends. However, there’s no way it can predict what customers will actually buy at your store. Use the tool to tweak the strategies for your ads, merchandise and online presence, but always rely on analysis from your own data when making major decisions for your business.

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