Posted:
December of 2014 may be remembered as the first truly omni-channel holiday season: the year retailers really stretched the sales funnel to include mobile, store visits and online buying under one big connected holiday umbrella.

Let's take a break from the holiday dash to see what we can learn from companies that have been creating unified shopping experiences for consumers while ringing in bigger and better profits for themselves. We'll start with a salute to three great examples of omni-channel thinking: Macy's, Sephora and REI.

Macy's

When over 15,000 people streamed into Macy's main New York City store at 6 pm this Thanksgiving Day, CEO Terry Lundgren wasn't too surprised. Omni-channel helped put those shoppers there. “So far, people are gravitating to the doorbusters," Lundgren said the next day. "There’s so much information online, so they’re doing that research and going right for those doorbusters."1

Macy's has been working for years to focus its marketing and retail teams into a group with a single vision on omni-channel conversions just like these.



"That incentive, of growing the number of omni-channel customers, is something we have shared over the last couple of years," says Jennifer Kasper, Macy's Group VP for Digital Media and Multi-cultural Marketing.

Sephora

"In retail, you can't think of mobile as a threat. You have to think about it as a magnet to draw that client into your store." That quote from Bridget Dolan, Sephora's VP Interactive Media, says it all about how Sephora has been winning with omni-media.

Sephora's progressive approach is the result of watching, and actually listening to, its customers. Today the Sephora mobile app lets shoppers scan products right off the shelf and see if they're right for their look. They can also look up past purchases, in case they want that same great shade of lipstick or eye shadow again.



New research shows that 46% of shoppers who use mobile devices in-store say they turn to the retailer’s site or app for information while they shop.2 "I really can't believe how much of our traffic is now coming from mobile devices," says Bridget Dolan, "and how many of our clients are using search as the way that they figure out which products they want to buy while they're standing in-store."

REI

The trusted outdoor retailer’s stores – especially its flagship locations -- are paradise for anyone who plays outside. REI now uses digital as a way to pull customers right into that local store experience.  After researching online, REI customers come into the store to try on those hiking boots or skis and then make the purchase.



Google/Ispos/Sterling research shows 69% of shoppers say they gather information from physical stores at some point in their shopping cycle.3 "One of the things we know definitively is that all of our digital tools really connect our members to our stores," says Annie Zipfel, SVP of Marketing for REI. "So they're often researching product online… and ultimately they're coming in the store to make that purchase."

What can we take away from these three examples of omni-channel success?

1) Care less about where. All three of these retailers are focused on using all channels to drive sales — wherever those sales might happen. As Jennifer Kasper of Macy's puts it, "The bottom line is, we're indifferent to whether [a shopper] converts in the store or online. We just want her to shop with Macy's."

2) Make mobile a magnet. The best omni-channel retailers make mobile a part of their in-store experience, inviting shoppers to use their hand-held devices as they browse. As Bridget Dolan of Sephora says, "We really welcome our clients to take out their phones in our store. A client that really knows exactly what she's buying, all the reviews, all her options... is actually a happier client and will come back and shop with you more often."

3) Bring down internal barriers. Annie Zipfel of REI says, "It is a smaller and smaller group that shops only in the store, or only online." If you still keep separate online and offline marketing teams, it may be time to think about bringing them, and their incentives, together so they can speak to customers in the way those customers shop now.

Happy omnidays, retailers!

Posted by Julie Krueger, Retail Industry Director

Visit the Local Retail Playbook to see our new “Digital Impact On In-Store Shopping” research about how consumers are shopping on and offline, and how retailers are responding this holiday season.

1"CEOs of Target, Macy's, and Others Weigh In on Black Friday Sales." Fortune.com, November 28, 2014. http://goo.gl/lz3s0t
2"Digital Impact on In-Store Shopping." Google/Ipsos MediaCT/Sterling Brands, October 2014. http://goo.gl/4TU0sY
3ibid.

Posted:
With more and more retailers offering holiday deals earlier in the season, the excitement about Black Friday is no longer confined to a single day. Now it’s more like a month-long event. As a result, one in five shoppers plan to head to stores on Thanksgiving Day to capitalize on Black Friday deals.1

To get a read on the trends heading into Black Friday, we took the temperature of holiday shopping online. We looked at search trends on Google, insights from Google Consumer Surveys and top trending purchases on our same-day delivery service, Google Express.

Mobile shoppers are out in force
As smartphone shoppers hunt for deals during snackable moments throughout their day, this holiday season will likely be the most mobile ever. Shopping searches on Google coming from smartphones have increased 3.5x year over year and continue to grow.2 And we’re currently sending more mobile traffic to retailers per week from Google Shopping than we did during the peak of last holiday season.3

The smartphone has become the most powerful shopping assistant while consumers are out and about, helping us read customer reviews, watch product demos and find other retailers with product in stock nearby. So it’s no surprise that the top spending days in 2013 for in-store sales are also the days we saw the biggest spikes in shopping searches on mobile devices.4

This coming weekend, expect to see many of your fellow shoppers checking for deals on their smartphone while braving the lines and crowds at the mall. Nearly 50% of 25–34 year-olds use their phone to shop online while standing in line at a store.5 To help these shoppers research products more easily this holiday weekend, we rolled out new mobile features to Google Shopping such as 360-degree imagery and more detailed product information.

Top trending gifts of the season
To get a sense of the hottest gifts likely to sell out this season, we used Google Trends to identify the top trending toys, devices and apparel searches on Google Shopping.
  • Game consoles and tablets continue to be the top gifts trending on Google Shopping, but wearable technology such as the “fitbit” is also on the rise this month. 
  • Certain retro toys are making a comeback this season. Thanks to the new movie “Ouija,” searches for “Ouija boards” are up 300% since October. And queries for “Barbie Dream House” and “My Little Pony” are up as well compared to last month. 6
  • Cold-weather staples, such as “Hunter boots” and “Canada Goose jackets,” are among the most popular apparel searches, up 46% and 140%, respectively, since October. But “jogger pants” are the newcomer gift this season, up 39% from October. 7


Hunting for deals online
Shoppers are already prepping for Black Friday shopping by researching purchases and deals online. We found that 27% of shoppers have already begun hunting for Black Friday deals online.8



The top questions people are asking about Black Friday on Google Search are:
  • What time do stores open on Black Friday
  • What time does Black Friday start
  • When does Black Friday end
  • What to buy on Black Friday
Source: Google data, November 2014.

Beating the holiday rush with same-day delivery
We wanted to take the pulse of the people making purchases this weekend as they prepare for the Thanksgiving festivities. Here’s an overview of the top trending purchases on Google Express across locations.9

San Francisco: No gingerbread cookies here. San Franciscans are seeking a nutritious holiday with lots of bananas, avocado, coconut water and quinoa. And talk about eating clean: Disinfecting wipes are also among top shoppers’ searches.
  • West LA: The City of Angels is ready to party. Disposable silverware, plastic cups, paper plates, tortilla chips and garbage bags are all they need for hassle-free entertaining. 
  • Manhattan: New Yorkers start off the day right with cereal, almond milk and—why not?—butter croissants. After a long day, residents relax with snacks such as mini pretzels and almonds. 
  • Boston: Bring your appetite to Boston parties. Salty treats such as maple bacon chips, green pea crisps and peanuts top shopping lists. The city also buys more ketchup and popcorn than any other city. 
  • Chicago: Baby boom. Chicago households are stocking up for tots this winter with lots of baby wipes and goodies such as chocolate and sparkling juice. To ward off sniffles, Chicago is loading up on vitamin C and orange juice!
  • Washington, D.C.: The capital is stocking up on healthy bites such as whole wheat crackers, fruit snacks and diet soda to wash it down. 
To learn more about digital trends and how they’re affecting holiday shopping, visit ThinkwithGoogle.

Posted by Jenny Fernandez, Analytical Insights Marketing, Google


Sources:

1 Google Consumer Survey, November 2014, n=1100.
2 Google Data, November 2014.
3 Global Google Shopping Data, Week of 12/2-12/8 ‘13 compared to 11/1-11/7 ‘14.
4 MasterCard, SpendingPulse report, 2013 and Google Search data, November–December 2013.
5 Google Consumer Survey, November 2014, n=1100.
6 Google Trends, November 2014.
7 Google Trends, November 2014.
8 Google Consumer Survey, November 2014, n=1100.
9 Google Express data, last 90 days (only delivered orders counted).

Posted:
Want to get more impressions and clicks for your Shopping campaigns? Or want to know how to spot missed opportunities in your bidding strategy and find your mobile share of voice? We introduced competitive landscape data last year so you can start answering those burning questions, and today, we’re excited to announce a handful of additions that’ll help you find new ways to optimize your Shopping campaigns and engage shoppers on all devices.
  • Auction insights report lets you compare your Product Listing Ad (PLA) performance to other advertisers participating in the same auctions as you are. With impression share, overlap rate and outranking share, you’re able to see trends amongst your peers and strategic opportunities to improve your bidding strategies.
  • Search impression share has been revamped to be more useful and aligned with text ads. You can now analyze your share of voice at the granularity you want with Search impression share in the Dimensions tab. You’ll know which campaigns are limited by a low budget with Lost IS (budget) and which ones need further optimization with Lost IS (rank). Note that we now calculate Search impression share at account level so you may notice a change in impression share between October and November.
  • Device and time segmentation are available to help you refine your bid modifier strategy. You can see if your peers received more mobile impressions than you over the weekend with the Auction insights report segmented by device and day.
  • Bid simulator columns show you what your advertising results could’ve been had you set different bids. You can add these columns in your Product groups tab and, for example, find product groups that’ll drive the most incremental clicks.
  • Flattened view of your product groups presents another way to analyze your performance. It allows you to sort your product groups within an ad group based on performance data and easily identify which to optimize. For example, you can sort by impression share, find a few product groups with the lowest impression share, and fine-tune those bids within a matter of clicks.
We hope these additions will help you identify easy-wins for the holidays and unlock new, more actionable ways to optimize your Shopping campaigns. We’ll continue to explore other reporting needs so you have relevant and useful data at your fingertips. Visit our help center articles for more information on Auction insights, Search impression share, bid simulator columns, and the flattened product groups view.

Posted by Dimitris Meretakis, Product Manager, Google Shopping


Posted:
Research finds surprises about how smartphones and online information affect in-store shopping.

We've all heard the theories that people who do research online no longer care about the in-store experience … or don't even go to physical stores any more. Or that shoppers who use a smartphone in a store are looking to buy elsewhere.

Google decided to find out how much of this is true. We've just run a research study with Ipsos MediaCT and Sterling Brands with the goal of discovering how smartphones and online information have changed the in-store experience.

The results, as they say, may surprise you. The full details are available at Think With Google. But here's a sneak peek at what we learned.

First, the study confirmed two things most of us have suspected:
  • Yes, today's consumers are better-informed than ever before. 
  • They crave information throughout the shopping process, and often use smartphones to get it.

But we also learned that three pieces of "common wisdom" were really more like myths:

Myth #1: Search results only send consumers to e-commerce sites.

The reality: The things people find in search results actually can send them to local stores. In fact, 3 in 4 people who said they found local information in search results helpful also said what they learned made them more likely to visit a store.

Myth #2: Once an in-store shopper starts looking at her smartphone, the store has lost her attention and her sale.

The reality: In-store smartphone moments are actually a good opportunity for brick-and-mortar stores to connect with shoppers and to help them make a decision. 46% of those shoppers say they look at the retailer's own site or app for information. Only 30% look up details from a different retailer’s web site or app.

Myth #3: With so much information available online, shoppers only go to stores to transact.

The reality: Shoppers actually want more, not less, out of their in-store experience. They want informed, customized experiences. 69% of shoppers said they gathered information from physical stores at some point in their shopping cycle. The catch is that 2 out of 3 shoppers said they didn't find all the info they wanted.

What does it all mean? Simply this: smartphones are a friend, not an enemy, to in-store shopping.

There are new opportunities for brands and stores to engage with customers in creative ways before, during, and after the customer’s shopping journey — one that may begin online and end up in-store. Search results, mobile ads, and mobile sites and apps can be magnets that draw consumers into stores and engage them while they're there. Smartphones and online information can also be a powerful way to create customized experiences for the consumer.

We discovered plenty of surprising insights in our study. See all the details at Think With Google » Plus, check out videos of Macy's, REI, and Sephora marketing execs sharing their approach for linking digital to store here.

Posted:

What if you never needed to remember to add money to your Wallet Balance? Now, you don’t. With the latest version of Google Wallet you’ll be able to add money automatically to your Wallet Balance and set up Low Balance alerts, so that you’ll always have money in your Wallet Balance when you need it.

Add Money Automatically 

Today, we are announcing a new way to add money to your Wallet Balance automatically through recurring bank transfers. The feature is secure, and will give you fast access to your money, with no Google Wallet fees.

With recurring bank transfers, adding money to your Wallet Balance takes care of itself. Simply schedule a recurring transfer from your bank account right into your Wallet Balance, and never worry about adding money to your Wallet Balance again. Choose the amount, set a schedule (weekly, bi-weekly or monthly) and you’re all set. Money will be added to your Wallet Balance automatically, and you can cancel your transfer at any time.

To set up a recurring transfer,
go to “Add money” then select
“Set up a recurring transfer”
                       
There are no fees or minimum balance requirements for your Wallet Balance. And rest assured, your money is safe. Your Wallet Balance is backed by 24/7 fraud monitoring and the Google Wallet Fraud Protection Guarantee, which covers 100% of any transactions made without your authorization. If your device is lost or stolen, you can easily disable the Google Wallet app online or by contacting Google customer support.

Set up Low Balance Alerts

With Low Balance alerts, you can keep track of your Wallet Balance and make sure you have enough to pay for the things you need, or to send money to friends and family.

To set up Low Balance alerts,
 open the Google Wallet app and
 touch “Low Balance alert” from
 the Wallet Balance screen

Spend your Wallet Balance in stores by swiping your Google Wallet Card at millions of locations in the US (including the District of Columbia) where Debit MasterCard® is accepted*, or use it to withdraw cash from an ATM. You can also use your Wallet Balance to Tap & Pay with any Android device running Kit Kat or higher at hundreds of thousands of locations throughout the US, on any mobile carrier. And as always, you can use it to make online purchases on Google Play, Google Express and anywhere you see the “Buy with Google” button.

Download the new version of the Google Wallet app on the Google Play Store and the App Store rolling out this week in the US, to use these new features.

Posted by Andrew Waterman, Product Manager, Google Wallet

* The Google Wallet Card is issued by The Bancorp Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to license by MasterCard International Incorporated. MasterCard is a registered trademark of MasterCard® International Incorporated. See Cardholder Agreement for details.

Posted:
One year ago, the first Google Shopping Express order was delivered—a box of granola. Our idea was to make shopping your favorite local stores as easy and fast as shopping online, and to help you get what you need delivered the same day. Since then, you’ve told us how we helped you restock diapers in the nick of time, made sure you had Bananagrams for family game night, and even made you feel connected to the outside world when you were home sick. Along the way, we've expanded to new locations, brought on more merchants, and offered more products. And now, we’re adding to the program you love.

More cities, more stores and more products
Starting today, we’re expanding to three new cities: Chicago, Boston, and Washington, D.C. Across all our cities, more than 7 million people can now access our same-day delivery service, and in Northern California almost 12 million can use our next-day service.

We’re also adding more merchants: 16 in total over the last couple of months. We’ve added national brands including 1-800-Flowers, Barnes & Noble, Nine West, PetSmart, Vitamin Shoppe and Sports Authority, and regional merchants such as Paragon Sports in New York and Vicente Foods in Los Angeles. In our new markets, we’ve added regional brands including Stop & Shop in Boston; Giant Food in D.C.; and Lux Roses, TigerDirect, Treasure Island Foods and Wrigleyville Sports in Chicago.


Additionally, customers in the Bay Area who are 21 and over can now order alcohol. Cheers (and please drink responsibly)!

Express membership
Starting today, shoppers who decide to become Google Express members will enjoy:

  • Free same-day or overnight delivery on eligible orders over $15.* 
  • First dibs on delivery windows
  • Shared membership with a household member

Membership costs $95/year or $10/month. Or you can choose to pay as you go, at $4.99 per eligible order. Learn more on our Help Center. Either way, we don’t add any hidden markups, so you pay the same price for your stuff on Google Express as you would in-store.

New shoppers can try the first three months of membership for free. You can cancel it at any time, so it’s easy to test it out and decide if you like it.

A shorter name
We've also noticed people referring to us as "Google Express"—and we love it. So as of today, we've simplified our name. Plus, we've added a punch of color to our parachute:



With more cities, more merchants, and more of your favorite items, Google Express is on its way toward making your life easier by helping you get even more errands out of the way. We hope to give you more free time—and we can’t wait to hear about all the things you do with it.

Posted by Brian Elliott, Head of Partnerships, Google Shopping

*Free delivery means no shipping & service fees. Same day or overnight depends on availability of delivery windows. Eligible orders are $15+ before taxes/fees in select delivery areas and exclude restricted items. Service fees apply to ineligible orders. Pricing may change. Requires active membership subject to terms & conditions.

Posted:

Are you an Elsa, Olaf or Anna? Judging by the top trending searches for Halloween costumes on Google, you’re going to see a lot of each on the streets this October 31. The characters from Disney’s animated blockbuster make up three of the top five trending costumes this year.

While last year’s list featured popular choices from TV (Breaking Bad) and the viral video “What Does The Fox Say,” movie-themed costumes are dominating this year. Maleficent and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costumes round out the top five. Costumes from Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America and The Avengers take places 6 through 8, while video-game Assassin's Creed and pet costume were the only non-movie themed costumes trend to make the Top 10.

Halloween infographic.jpg

With more than half of their traffic coming from Google, online retailer BuyCostumes.com anticipated the surge in interest around these top costumes and tailored their Google Search advertising to ensure that they’re connecting with consumers as they’re looking for this season’s popular costumes.

“We watch the trends with a keen eye, especially around this time of year,” said Jennifer Dominiquini, chief marketing officer for BuySeasons, Inc., parent company to BuyCostumes.com. “It is important to us to leverage the trends and ensure those searching for them are finding our brand in their search.”

Trick or Doggy Treat?

It’s no surprise that canine companions frequently join the family as they take to the streets, going door to door, but more and more people are looking to incorporate their dogs into the Halloween spirit. Searches for dog costumes are trending nearly 15% higher than last year, and one pet even costume managed to crack the Top Ten trending costumes. At number 9 on this is ‘spider dog’, no doubt inspired by the viral video sensation ‘Mutant Giant Spider Dog’, which has generated more than 99 million views on YouTube since the beginning of September. BuyCostumes.com has been seeing a surge in interest around pet costumes this season, with people also looking for ways to incorpoate their animal friends into themed costumes for the whole family.

Halloween, The DIY Way

Halloween is one of those holidays filled with the do-it-yourself spirit, particularly if the DIY costume and general Halloween trends on Google Search are any indication:


Top 10 Most Searched DIY Costumes
Top 10 Halloween DIY Searches
  1. DIY Elsa costume
  2. DIY mermaid costume
  3. DIY couples costumes
  4. DIY Minion costume
  5. DIY Minnie Mouse costume
  6. DIY Disney costumes
  7. DIY Ninja Turtle costume
  8. DIY superhero costume
  9. DIY Olaf costume
  10. DIY Wonder Woman costume
  1. how to make Halloween props
  2. how to make Halloween invitations
  3. how to make Halloween wreaths
  4. how to draw Halloween
  5. how to decorate for Halloween
  6. how to draw scary Halloween stuff
  7. how to throw a Halloween party
  8. how to make a Halloween mask
  9. how to do Halloween makeup
  10. how to plan a Halloween party

But nowhere is the the DIY Halloween spirit more alive than on YouTube. Last year, nearly one out of three Halloween costume searches on YouTube were for DIY costumes. Searches for DIY costumes on YouTube  grew more than 200% in 2013 compared to the previous year.

One DIY area on YouTube that sees a significant seasonal spike every year for Halloween is in makeup. Searches for makeup on YouTube hits a high each October as millions of people search for Halloween inspiration and tips. 

Whether you’re looking to show off your inner Elsa, are searching for the best outfit for Fido, or are looking to wow your friends with your DIY prowess, there are tricks and treats available for everyone this Halloween.

Posted by Danielle Bowers, Data & Trends Manager