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Google won't charge businesses to sell goods in its Shopping section, beginning later this month in the U.S. and globally over the course of the year, the company said on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Google is trying to eliminate fees for its services to ease the burden on small businesses and publishers, two categories that rely heavily on its services and are hurting badly amid the coronavirus' effect on the economy.

What they’re saying: "Beginning next week, search results on the Google Shopping tab will consist primarily of free product listings, helping merchants better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google," Google commerce president Bill Ready said in a blog post.

Yes, but: This isn't totally altruistic. Google makes most of its advertising dollars from people engaging with media-company content on its platform or small businesses selling goods, so it makes financial sense for it to try to help out those industries in any way it can. The company has already committed millions of dollars in grants to small businesses and local news companies.

The big picture: Yelp, Facebook and others have also tried to cut fees or offer ad credits in the short term to help ease the pandemic's financial pain for their largely small-business customer base.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Jul 29, 2020 - Economy & Business

PPP may have only saved about 13.6 million jobs, not 51 million

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) used $520 billion worth of taxpayer funds to save around 13.6 million jobs, according to estimates of available data from S&P Global U.S. chief economist Beth Ann Bovino.

Why it matters: That comes out to $38,235 per job over an eight-week period.

Jul 28, 2020 - Economy & Business

The back-to-work puzzle

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

With an unending list of factors to consider — including the safety of air-conditioning systems, the risk of using public transportation, schools' reopening schedules and the needs of high-risk employees — the back-to-work puzzle is getting increasingly difficult to solve.

The big picture: At first, companies were pleasantly surprised at how well telecommuting worked, with many firms — including Twitter — saying they might go remote forever. Now, about four months in, remote work doesn't seem so great anymore.

Updated Jul 28, 2020 - Axios Events

Watch: Small business recovery during the pandemic

On Tuesday July 28, Axios Media Trends author Sara Fischer hosted the fifth of a six-event series on small business recovery across America, focusing on how female-led small businesses have innovated and used digital tools to pivot during the pandemic, featuring Nevada Sen. Jacky Rosen, National Association of Women Business Owners CEO Jen Earle and Sameka Jenkins, owner of Carolima’s Lowcountry Cuisine.

Sen. Rosen discussed her bipartisan work on helping to secure more funds for Nevada business owners, as well as how the hospitality industry in the state has pivoted.

  • How Nevada has innovated hospitality industry: "One thing that [Nevada] knows how to do is create an experience. [Casinos] have been designing this very cool Plexiglas [screen] that might go between slot machines or be used in restaurants...I think that some of those things may be exported to hospitality across the nation."
  • On working with small business owners to help them secure loans: "We're a large state in size, but small in population with about three million. So we're able to know each other, work together, and that's what's going to make this a success...Sole proprietors need to know that they can get these funds."

Jen Earle highlighted the obstacles that women encounter in securing loans and navigating unequal distribution of labor at home.

  • On unique challenges for women business owners: "Access to capital for women is a bigger issue...They've [started businesses] by bootstrapping, by utilizing credit cards, by using personal funding...They don't obviously have relationships with bankers."
  • How small businesses are central to their communities: "They support the nonprofits that are local. They support youth school programs, the soccer programs, things like that that really keep the economy vibrant."

Sameka Jenkins discussed her experience as a small business owner and how Carolima’s Lowcountry Cuisine has utilized social media to stay connected to their community.

  • How her business has leaned on digital tools: "[We've used] social media like Facebook, Instagram. We started doing live videos at the start of the pandemic...we've actually brought people into our home virtually and we've taught them how to prepare certain dishes."
  • How social media can keep members of a community close: "I think everyone's pivoted in their own way...For us, the videos were very helpful. Social media was very helpful...I think at this time, people want to see that transparency. People want you to share. People want to be a part of your lives. And they just want to know that, you know, we're all in this together."

Thank you Facebook for sponsoring this event.

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