Since 2020, the commerce landscape has evolved at lightning speed. eCommerce has boomed while physical store retailers have suffered.
In 2022, businesses need to understand the omnipotence of an omnichannel presence. The sweet spot between online and offline. Like the growth of click-and-collect options, helping customers shop as safe as ever.
Google recognised this and has launched a new ad format to bridge that gap for local retailers - Local Inventory Ads.
So, what are Local Inventory Ads, and why are they so beneficial?
What Are Local Inventory Ads?
Today, nearly half of all shoppers globally say they confirm what they want is in stock before going to the shop. And in response to this, Google created Local Inventory Ads (LIAs).
LIAs enable businesses to show product and store information to shoppers who are nearby and searching on Google. For a shopper, LIAs are visible through Google Search, Google Images, and Google Assistant.
The primary purpose of LIAs is to promote in-store inventory and drive consumers to your physical locations to complete a purchase.
With LIAs, you can highlight to online shoppers exactly when and where certain products are located. This removes the stress of having to hunt for a product and gives the customer the option to click and collect or buy in-store quickly and efficiently.
So, LIAs can help local businesses reach nearby shoppers and provide them with information on what they have in stock, which can in turn increase sales to their physical shops.
LIAs are only suitable for businesses that have at least one brick-and-mortar store and sell physical goods, not services. Your physical stores must be located where you are targeting your ads.
Right now, you can run these ads in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. Other countries outside Europe include USA, Canada, Brazil, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.
The format is also in beta in Spain, Italy, and India. Small- to medium-sized businesses will see a real benefit from these ads, as you do not need to have an eCommerce functionality to set them up.
What Are the Benefits of LIAs?
We touched upon the benefit for online shoppers, but what can they do for local businesses?
You can add your local shop online at a nominal cost. You do not need an online store to run these ads. LIAs can promote your products and provide store information like opening hours, product availability, and directions to give a well-rounded virtual storefront.
These ads amplify customer reach as they are available on desktop, mobile, and tablet, connecting your storefront to shoppers from wherever they are searching from. This improves the purchasing process for your customers as you will be more visible on all their devices.
LIAs help support in-store initiatives as these ads can highlight local promotions, which drives awareness of new store locations or re-openings and increases store visits during periods of key promotions.
They also help maintain profits by advertising certain products at specific stores rather than constantly discounting merchandising.
This provides the ability to upsell, as the average order value is generally higher when customers buy in-store.
With LIAs, you can seamlessly measure your ads performance based on how they have impacted in-store and online conversions. Google provides useful reports when you report store visits as a segment of “All Conversions”.
The Time Lag shows insights into how long a purchase takes from an ad click to a visit. On average, store visits take twice as long to accrue compared to online conversions. Other local inventory reports include Distance and Per Store.
How to Set Up LIAs
Google states the average onboarding time is around 6 weeks, so don’t stress if it takes a while to set up. If you’re looking for a short turnaround, setting up Pickup Later with Shopping ads only takes between one to two weeks.
These are best for advertisers on Shopping Ads that are not live on LIAs yet.
However, we would highly recommend getting onto Local Inventory Ads as soon as possible. Adding local feed in Merchant Center, not only enables LIAs but opens new opportunities when it comes to Maps, and Display by having that extra omnichannel data.
Step 1: Onboarding
You need your business to be up and running on these three separate accounts to run local inventory ads:
Merchant Center Account
Google Ads Account
Step 2: Enable Local Inventory Ads on Your Merchant Center
Sign into Merchant Center Account
Click “Growth” in the navigation menu
Click “Manage Programs”
Click “Get Started” on the local inventory ads program card
Confirm your location and then click “Continue”
Ensure the business information and accounts sections are complete
Click the “Plus” button
Choose the country where your physical store is located
Step 3: Verify Your About Page
Your About page must contain:
The location your company is registered to
Any industry-specific registration details
Then, submit your About page by:
Signing in to your Merchant Center account
Clicking the tools icon, then selecting Local inventory ads setup under “Tools”
Clicking your country bar
Adding your About URL into the text box
Step 4: Create, Register, and Submit Local Product Feeds
Here you need to create the following feeds:
Product Feed (Primary Feed) – Data that describes the item being sold, including product ID, title, description, image, brand, etc.
Local Product Inventory Feed – Price data and Inventory data, including price, sale price and product ID, store code, and quantity for each specific location.
Store Pickup Attributes – Pickup data detailing if store pickup is a supported method of shopping.
After completing all these feeds, request a Merchant Hosted Local Store Front (MHLSF) review through Google.
Step 5: Inventory Verification Checks and Launch
Next, Google needs to verify your Inventory feeds, to do this, follow the steps listed below:
Click Overview in the navigation window on your Merchant Center account
Click Continue next to “Local Inventory Ads” or “Free local product listings"
Find the relevant country’s program bar
Click on the “Request Verification” button
Google then kicks off the process, which can take up to 7 days. Upon approving your feeds, the Google team will coordinate with you to schedule verification and resolve any issues.
Step 6: Enable Local In Shopping Campaigns
Once all the above is completed, your products are eligible to show in inventory ads and free local listings.
Local Inventory Ads provide many benefits to your advertising strategy and help you reach your KPIs.
The pandemic has been hard for most of us, and small, local businesses need to seize this opportunity to bring their storefront to the ever-growing digital world.