Coronavirus prompts Google to offer free selling to online retailers

Free listings will be available to merchants starting next week

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Google is allowing merchants to sell their products for free on the platform starting next week, Google President of Commerce Bill Ready said in a blog post Tuesday.

The move comes as small businesses across the U.S. have shuttered as the novel coronavirus forces people — and in this case, customers — to stay home.

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"As consumers increasingly shop online, they're searching not just for essentials but also things like toys, apparel, and home goods," Ready wrote. "...In light of these challenges, we’re advancing our plans to make it free for merchants to sell on Google."

Starting next week, "search results on the Google Shopping tab will consist primarily of free listings, helping merchants better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google," Ready said.

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He added that Google knows many retailers sell essential items that buyers may need right now amid the COVID-19 outbreak but listings for these items "are less discoverable online."

The decision aims to give retailers for exposure and shoppers more buying options. Advertisers can also strengthen paid campaigns with free listings, Ready wrote.

Google is also partnering with PayPal in an effort to make it easier for merchants to create seller accounts on Google Shopping.

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