5 July 2021

A worldwide survey among consumers showed that 76% of the offline purchases start online: consumers want to know which store is selling the products they are looking for. They also need practical information: opening hours, a phone number and directions.

Google is where many consumers start their shopping journey and Google Shopping is how they find specific products. Did you know that you can use Google Shopping to promote your in-store inventory? Garden Connect experimented with Google Local Inventory Ads this Spring and you can read about the surprising results in this article!

We’re also happy to share a detailed, step-by-step guide on how to set up your own Google Local Inventory Ads as well.

What is Google Local Inventory Ads?

Before we jump into the finer details, we’ll explain what Local Inventory Ads are and how they work.

Local Inventory Ads is a feature you can activate on Google Shopping to display ads to consumers that are focused on store visits. These ads include relevant information for potential customers looking to buy offline, like:

  • The store address
  • Miles from location to store
  • Opening hours
  • Google Maps with location

Add an image of the product, name and price and the user has all he needs to know to pay you a visit!

The case: 181 free store visits via Google

One of the Garden Connect customers is selling a wide range of products online: garden tools, furniture, houseplants and much more. They were already promoting their online store heavily online which helped them to grow their online sales.

But how about boosting traffic to the brick & mortar garden centre?

We suggested trialling Google Local Inventory Ads. We linked the existing webshop feed to the Local Inventory Ads program and started to optimise the feed and ads. Due to EU regulations, Google is obliged to offer free listings on its’ Google Shopping platform so we decided to focus on the free listings first before spending money on the ads.

The result after the first month:

  • 14,880 views of products
  • 181 clicks

That means 181 customers were interested in learning more about this garden centre. According to further Google research, 18% of the clicks on Local Inventory Ads result in a store visit. That means this store had 33 extra visitors - for free.

Now that doesn’t sound too impressive but 33 new customers a month means:

  • 390 new customers per year
  • On average, a customer visits a garden centre 4 times per year
  • So that’s 1,560 extra visits
  • The average transaction value is around £35
  • So that makes £54,600 extra revenue per year
  • ... and next year, it starts over with another 33 new customers!

You can argue about the math but the idea is clear: it’s not only about the 181 clicks or 33 new customers. It’s about the recurring business you get from these people!

After all, the only thing we did so far was to advertise for free - remember?

How to set up Google Local Inventory Ads?

So now you know how Google Local Inventory Ads works and how it can drive traffic to your store. The next step is to set up Google Local Inventory Ads for your own garden centre.

The first thing you need to know is that Local Inventory Ads are only available in these countries:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Japan
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Also, you need to have a store that’s open to the public without appointments or restrictions. So you can’t advertise your warehouse as a store.

Setup Google Merchant Center

So if you’re eligible and you’re keen to get more customers to your garden centre - and I guess you are - you can start by setting up your accounts.

The first thing you need to do is set up your Google Merchant Center account. Check this article on the Google site for more information.

Once sorted, you need to make sure your Google My Business profile is up to date. Add your opening hours and don’t forget to add a store code.

The last thing you need is a valid Google Ads account, linked to your Google Merchant Center account.

All sorted? Great! Let’s enable the Local Inventory Ads in your Merchant centre.

  1. Sign in to your Merchant Center account
  2. Click Growth in the navigation menu on the left
  3. Click Manage Programs
  4. Click Get Started on Local Inventory Ads
  5. Confirm you’re eligible for Local Inventory Ads
  6. Click the + (plus) button
  7. Choose the country where your garden centre is located

Once this is enabled, you have to set up your product feeds.

Google Shopping Feeds & Local Inventory Feeds

Google needs to understand the products you have in-store and that’s why you need to pull data from your webshop into the Merchant Center. The Garden Connect platform has multiple options to do this automatically and we can also pull data from your POS system into Merchant Center.

There are two feeds you need:

  • A full Google Shopping feed containing all the items you potentially want to promote
  • A Local Inventory Feed (per store, if you have multiple ones)

Those two feeds combined will help Google to understand the items you have in store. You can set up these feeds on your own webshop, find a third party to help you or use the options available on the Garden Connect platform.

Local Inventory verification

Once your feeds are set up and approved, Google will contact you to do a physical inventory check. This check can be in person or over the phone/via mobile.

It’s important to know that Google will request you to take photos of stock and price tickets. Therefore, it’s important this information is updated frequently and automatically.

Once you complete the inventory verification, you can start benefiting from the free Google Local Inventory Ads and boost your existing Google Shopping Ads campaigns.

Do It Yourself?

While managing your own Google Merchant Center and keeping your Local Inventory Ads up to date is something you can do yourself, you may want to consider talking to experts. It might save you valuable time, get you online quicker and make sure you benefit from Local Inventory Ads and other opportunities sooner rather than later!

If you have any questions about Local Inventory Ads for your garden centre, please contact us via +44 203 475 5541 or email us at info@gardenconnect.com.

The ultimate way to get customers to your garden centre via Google Shopping
Edwin Meijer

This article is written by:

Edwin Meijer

Marketing director

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