After the year we had in 2020, we started 2021 having no idea of what to expect. A lot has happened in the world of e-commerce in the last 3 months so we’ve summarised some key happenings and innovation updates that shaped the first quarter of the year 2021.
UK consumers changed their shopping habits with the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Reports from Mintel Consumer Research Study show that at least 36% of UK consumers swapped in-store with online for both food and non-food essentials. Further supermarket research revealed that the growth in online grocery shopping amounted to up to 60% more compared to 2019.
In January 2021, we took product feed optimisation to another level with the launch of our Automated Suggestions, a new feature within our product feed management software that continuously analyses product feeds to suggest improvements and optimisations for primary fields within product feeds such as Product Titles, Descriptions, Product Types, Google Product Categories and more.
Back in January 2020, Google announced the plan to make the web more private for users by phasing out third-party cookies across their Chrome browser by 2022.
Google's plan is to protect web users from the growing fear of privacy breaches due to third-party cookies used across various websites. The proposed alternative to third-party cookies is FLoC, a technology that groups users with similar browsing behaviour together, collecting and using the algorithms from users to then place these users in cohorts of other individuals with similar interests.
The introduction of FLoC means that advertisers would have to start thinking about their next moves and be prepared for the privacy-forward future.
On April 6, Google launched Price Accuracy Policy, intended to rigorously check that all advertised prices are accurate within the Merchant Center feeds, product feeds and at the checkout stage.
So, Google’s Shopping Bot was implemented to check that, once reached the checkout stage, shoppers are asked to pay the prices they are initially promised at the start of the shopping journey. The new Google crawler was designed to add products to e-commerce site shopping carts, and also abandon them at any point, to verify matching prices from landing pages throughout checkout.
During the Brexit transition period, concerns arose about what Shopping Ads directed to EU countries would look like and whether this would bring changes to the way Google CSS works. Google confirmed that the UK’s exit from the EU would not require changes to the Google Merchant Center and Shopping ads processes. This was some great positive news for e-commerce businesses, based on the BordersOPmodel report, released by the UK government in December 2020.
The beginning of 2021 also saw some innovative features introduced for all-things-beauty. Working with data partners ModiFace and Perfect Corp, Google launched a new feature for US shoppers, specifically to give a ‘try on’ experience, similar to an in-store shopping experience, directly from a mobile phone. The goal is to make consumers capable of making shopping decisions while shopping from their sofa at home. Now we just have to wait to hear when the features will be available for users across Europe and the rest of the world too.
From removing third-party cookies from Google Chrome, Google CSS news after Brexit, to digital innovations on Google App, we’ve seen a lot happen this first quarter. We’re excited to see what more is in store for the rest of 2021.