In the rapidly evolving landscape of digital marketing, in particular across Google search, staying ahead of the curve is important. In 2023, the pursuit of a personalised online experiences is still front of mind for retailers, allowing them to engage with customers on their own terms. This approach can be a crucial factor that separates you from your competitors and across search the key to that experience is Local Inventory Ads, or LIAs
Although LIAs are not an entirely new concept, there have been some recent updates from Google which have expanded their utility. In this article, we will give you an overview of LIAs, their implementation and the benefits they can bring. We are also going to share how Productcaster has become one of the best partners for supporting with the set-up of LIAs for retailers across Europe.
Understanding Local Inventory Ads
To begin, let’s demystify LIAs. The concept is relatively straight forward – they enable retailers to showcase their products and store information to local shoppers. Essentially, they empower potential customers to view product availability in their local store allowing for in-store fulfilment, i.e. collection or complete the purchase.
Retailers can use LIAs to seamlessly connect to a locally hosted shop front by Google, furnishing shoppers with important information for making purchase decisions, information such as stock levels, opening hours, directions or even distance to store. This helps to deliver a frictionless shopping experience.
The advantages of LIAs
LIAs offer a range of advantages, making them a great tool to differentiate yourself from other retailers, such as
- Highlighting instore inventory from a simple Google search for a shopper in your category
- Informing the shopper of future instore availability utilising deliver to store or pick up on x day messaging
- Streamlining click and collect messaging to simplify the purchase journey
- A cost saving potential - if the product information is there on the SERP, does the shopper need to click through to site?
- Offering performance uplift. Google’s estimates are between 15% and 20% uplift in performance. Productcaster stats show this is closer to 12% to 18% increase in performance.
We mentioned earlier about Google developments of LIAs, and the main developments have been around the types of LIAs.
The 3 types of LIAs available
There are 3 distinct types of LIAs available, each tailored to specific retailer needs or their specific ability to implement a, once very, complex process for executing LIAs.
To keep it simple we have broken down the core differences between the 3 types based on technical requirements, performance uplift and implementation.
This version does not need an additional product inventory feed and is ideal for retailers that are seeking a way to test the waters of localised marketing before building the development for more complex implementations into their e-com roadmap
- Technical requirements
- Website supports a collect in store option
- There is no product inventory feed needed
- Utilises the existing PLA product feed, with some additional attributes
- Performance uplift
- Up to 15% increase in online results from local search queries*
- Effort needed to implement is LOW
LIA Basic and Full
Both require additional product inventory feeds, but the key difference is the landing page experience for the customer. Basic caters to retailers with limited stock capacity across their store estate whereas Full caters for retailers with a large store estate and a large product inventory offering. They both serve as a bridge between the online and physical world, and it is fair to say how important physical availability is within retail.
In both of these versions there are requirements to have a Google My Business account linked to Merchant Centre, a primary product feed and an inventory feed containing all of the localised product details.
Latest Local Inventory Ad developments
There have also been other developments from our friends at Google, more specifically Autofeeds.
Google has introduced two new Autofeed options for retailers seeking a faster onboarding process without the need to construct and maintain product and inventory feeds. These solutions require eligibility for Merchant hosted local store fronts for both Basic and Full versions of LIAs
By utilising a new Google pixel on site and leveraging tag manager, it is possible to scrape feed information for a retailer's website. This is an excellent option for retailers that are not easily able to build and maintain inventory feeds and can be used as a long-term solution if set up correctly.
As with most things there are some minimum requirements that need to be in place in order to use pixel autofeeds.
- Merchants must be eligible for MHLSF Basic or MHLSF Full
- Store Inventory must be available on the website
- Retailers need to add a tag to Google Tag Manager or insert a JS template
It is also advisable to flag any issues with either your CSS provider or agency in order to create a feedback loop with Google on the feature and its potential future development. Productcaster is supporting our retail clients by creating this feedback loop with Google to ensure we can feed into the ongoing product development.
The second option from Autofeeds is using the Google crawl feature. This feature allows Google to crawl the retailer's website and gather local inventory information. This is not a solution we would advise for retailers with more than 20 physical stores as the products are limited to 50 which makes it less viable for the majority of retailers. We did feel it would be remiss of us not to mention that fact in this post.
A superpower for retailers
In conclusion, Local Inventory Ads stand as a “superpower” for retailers with a physical store footprint in order to create a seamless path to purchase by creating an omnichannel approach for their customers. Golden quarter for retail is fast approaching and implementing LIAs into your armoury will drive improved performance.
If you believe that Pixel or Crawl Autofeeds would work for your Merchant Centre, then there is a step-by-step process to implement this through your product feeds. You can either speak with your Google representative who can help you through the process or contact our Client Success Team and allow us to take the pain out of the set up when you move to Productcaster CSS.
With up to 20% savings on your CPCs*, a simple one-step notification process and no downtime to your campaigns, it’s never been easier to switch your CSS and feed management to Productcaster. Just drop us an email today.
(*compared to those served via Google CSS)
Every time Apple launches the next iPhone model, the world scrambles to get hold of the shiny new product. Every retailer is desperate to get ahead of the competition and get their stock listed first at a competitive price. And our Affiliate Marketing client, Three Mobile, is no different. In 2022, they turned to the team at Summit and Productcaster tech to ensure that their products beat the competition.
Over the years, Three has relied on our Affiliate team and our proprietary tech FeedManager tool to help them be first to market. Being the first retailer to list the new iPhone has a huge impact on sales. For example, when the iPhone 12 was released in October 2020, Summit got Three first listing on Uswitch and visible on Affiliate channels within 5 minutes, leading to a 125% increase in YOY sales.
This achievement doesn’t come without its challenges. In particular, Apple’s strict timescales on releasing any information only gives a limited amount of time to organise and act. So, when the 1pm deadline was reached, the Productcaster team sprang into action for the third year in a row.
The team worked seamlessly with colleagues at Three in the run up to the launch to make sure that the product feed was up-to-date and published on FeedManager immediately as soon as the embargo lifted. The tool is incredibly quick and pushes the feeds faster than most other technologies, which is vital in such a competitive launch situation.
Whereas some providers have limitations on how often they can publish feeds. FeedManager can be updated every hour, with the capacity to create a manual push when needed. The technology is designed to ensure that any changes you make are done quickly, ensuring your products can be seen first.
This approach and usage of FeedManager meant that Three's offers for the new iPhone were featured before any other providers. As people like to be "first" when buying new phones like these, appearing first in comparison sites makes a big difference to the amount of sales you can generate from a phone launch
- Three’s Apple iPhone 14’s was the first to appear on Uswitch with the feed updated and released in under 30 seconds.
- Week-on-week handset sales up 120%.
- 22% increase in traffic
“The team at Summit were highly instrumental in the success of our iPhone launch, with the speed and efficiency of both the people and the product feeds allowing us to appear on key partner sites before any of our competitors. This allowed us to gain momentum and take hold of the #1 positions which are so important for sales on price comparison websites.
A big thank you to the team at Summit for their efforts!”
Iain Davidson – Lead Affiliate Manager at Three UK
Visit our FeedManager pages to find out how optimising your feed could help you drive more sales. You could even be eligible for a FeedCheck report, helping your understand the health of your product feed (and how you can improve).