Microsoft Bing expands Purchasing choices for customers, provides retailers extra choices to succeed in customers

Bing Shopping now includes new customer-facing tabs so shoppers can find exactly what they’re looking for, all in one place. The new tabs categorize trading options under headings such as departments, deals, trending products, price drops, deals and more. “These advanced options provide useful hover menus and informative page guides that highlight choices, offers and trends,” the announcement said.

With the shopping season just around the corner, the opportunities are opening up for retailers. Both Google and Microsoft (as well as Facebook and other social channels) are investing in ways to help both small retailers and large stores be where customers need them. Search Engine Land sat down with Sumit Chatterjee, Lead Product Manager at Microsoft Shopping to discuss the future of shopping at Bing and how the product roadmap will help both users and retailers find each other.

How shopping worked in the past. Chatterjee pointed out that Bing Shopping used to be very search-driven and often only included products from advertisers who paid to appear on the carousels and lists. Last August, the company opened an organic shopping listing option to merchants participating through the Merchant Center. The feed-based system was limited at first but has grown since then. Before this option was available, however, only advertisers who paid to have their product featured in listings could see traffic from this section of Bing Shopping.

Bing shopping in the market. Along with the updated shopping tabs, Chatterjee says Microsoft is moving shopping up the funnel. The company announced in September that shopping options will be available soon in Edge. The updates include “easy access to online expert reviews and customer ratings for over 5 million products right from the address bar when shopping in Microsoft Edge,” said Liat Ben-Zur, corporate vice president. In addition to shopping directly from your browser, Chatterjee also pointed out new shopping opportunities that access the Windows user base directly.

Become a shopping recommendation engine. The new direction for Bing Shopping is to become a recommendation engine rather than just a search engine. Chatterjee explains that Microsoft sees three main types of buyers using Bing: trend seekers, passive buyers, and deal seekers. By using data protection-oriented buyer data, the shopping experience becomes “query-free”, says Chatterjee. Being able to make recommendations “for you” will “add another dimension for the users”. Bing can customize shopping suggestions based on these types of buyers and general trends in the retail landscape.

Bing shoppers types. Trend seekers look for shopping recommendations based on what others are buying. It could be fashion, trendy vacation toys, or any other popular item or type of item. For these type of buyers, Microsoft will recommend deals based on what everyone else on the platform is buying and the best pricing options for buyers. The “highly rated” indicator also shows that many other buyers have checked the quality of a trend product. Passive buyers would also benefit from the recommended or “for you” offers. You can just browse to see what’s out there or out of boredom so the personalized suggestions and the display of sales could be the reason behind the purchase. The deal seekers can also see the price history, ratings and reviews. A new section on the roadmap, Chatterjee explained, is a “Good / Great / Epic” section that will encourage those deal-seekers to buy while the prices are at their best.

Stores need to sign up for it to work. For the model to work for both buyers and retailers, stores must choose to deliver their “entire product corpus”. At the moment you can do this through the Merchant Center:

  • If you are currently a Microsoft Shopping Campaigns customer, you do not need to do anything to participate. All approved product offers in Microsoft Merchant Center are automatically activated [Bing Shopping listings].
  • If you’re not a Microsoft Shopping Campaigns customer, create a Microsoft Merchant Center store, submit all eligible products, and make sure they’re approved. When the Merchant Center store is created, you agree to the free product listing offer so that your approved products will be eligible to appear in the free product listing section of the Bing Shopping tab.

Microsoft Bing’s new Shopify integration is another way to make this process as easy as possible for retailers. “The Microsoft Channel app in Shopify is currently available in the US and Canada and enables companies to automatically display product lists for free on the Microsoft Bing Shopping and Microsoft Start Shopping tabs,” wrote Search Engine Land in October of this year.

From price comparison tool to shopping destination. Bing Shopping’s product roadmap includes new features that make shopping more convenient, Chatterjee also told Search Engine Land. In addition to being a recommendation engine, Bing Shopping is also a shopping destination by integrating express checkout and shipping right into Bing Shopping. Buyers can shop directly from Edge:

“To use this feature when shopping in Microsoft Edge, select the guest checkout on the merchant website, then click Test Express Checkout in the address bar. If you’ve used this feature before, you’ll see your AutoFill information there. Check the information for accuracy and then click ‘Test all coupons and autofill details’, “said Ben-Zur.

The auto-fill option replicates services like Amazon’s one-click purchase, making the buying experience even smoother for shoppers – and reducing the checkout barriers that lead to abandoned shopping carts and prevent final conversions.

Why we care. Chatterjee told us that the Bing Shopping canvas has 1 billion impressions per year. That number is only likely to increase as Microsoft expands its shopping product offering to Edge and Windows. As a free listing service opting for search marketing and retailers with easy-to-use integrations and feed-based systems, it seems like a no-brainer that commerce marketers and even SMBs could benefit from being part of their shopping roadmap. Many shoppers are already using Bing Shopping’s tabs for price comparison, which can result in products appearing like goods. Many retailers would prefer their buyers to land there to discover the value of their products and drive value-based conversions. However, the buy-it-now and checkout options could result in less friction in the final purchase. In any case, it is worth taking part as the shopping product continues to grow.

About the author

Carolyn Lyden is Director of Search Content for Search Engine Land and SMX. With expertise in SEO, content marketing, local search, and analytics, she focuses on making things easier for marketers with critical news and educational content.

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