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Exclusive: Google Cloud data shows strong retail e-traffic

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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

New data from Google Cloud shows its retail customers saw more online network traffic in 1H 2022 than all of 2019 combined.

Why it matters: Retailers poured millions of dollars into e-commerce during the height of COVID-19, but have since struggled to maintain the pandemic-induced online shopping spike.

What they’re saying: Leveraging technology helps retailers think smarter, not harder, says Carrie Tharp, Google Cloud's vice president of retail and consumer solutions.

  • A retailer’s website used to be a single destination where consumers would shop, Tharp tells Axios.
  • Now consumers have many points to cross, from social media to video apps — and that pool keeps growing larger, she adds.

Yes and: People are also going to websites to mull their purchase before making it, especially as macroeconomic dynamics change, she says.

  • “People think about these purchases, and that leads to more traffic."
  • An Ipsos survey commissioned by Google found that shoppers of apparel, beauty and home products spend up to two weeks researching products before making a buy.
  • “What that means for any retailer is you really have to have your digital game together,” Tharp says.

State of play: Through cloud, data and analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, retailers can drive sales by improving the online shopping experience.

  • One area where retailers can make improvements is product discovery, she says.
  • Retailers lose out on more than $300 billion annually when shoppers can’t find what they’re looking for on a retailer’s website, per a survey conducted by The Harris Poll and Google.
  • About 94% of U.S. consumers dropped their online shopping session because of irrelevant search results, that survey found.
  • More than half said they’ll shop elsewhere if there’s at least one product they can’t find.

Be smart: “Why this matters on an ongoing basis is 85% of those folks say they viewed your brand differently,” Tharp says — and this hurts a retailer’s connection with consumers.

  • Tailoring results reap benefits as well, with about 81% of U.S. shoppers expressing appreciation for a more personalized brand.
  • Retailers can leverage loyalty programs and tech letting customers opt into the information that they’d like to provide — ensuring privacy as well as personalization, Tharp says.

The big picture: Getting inventory “just right” has proven difficult in unpredictable times and is costing retailers more than $1 trillion a year, per IHL Group (see our story about the inventory glut).

  • Leveraging data insights across products, customers, geographies and fashion and social media trends help retailers more accurately forecast demand.
  • This means "less inventory on hand, that's not the right inventory, less inventory in the wrong places,” Tharp says.

This article has been updated to clarify the data is from Google Cloud, not Google.

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