Martha Welsh, director of strategy, operations and GMT for Google Commerce, has been driving a lot of changes for the search engine’s shopping vertical since she started with the company 11 years ago.

Welsh’s focus is on building healthier ecosystems at the intersection of business and technology, and in 2022, that means creating a more engaging and interesting world of e-commerce that appeals to both consumers and retailers.

“We obviously have all seen a decade’s worth of growth take place in the last couple years,” Welsh said in an exclusive interview with Women in Retail Leadership Circle, during which she shared her e-commerce predictions for 2022 and what Google Commerce — which includes shopping, travel and payments — will be focused on this year and beyond.

Integration of Offline and Online Shopping

One thing is for certain: The consumer behavior that we’ve grown accustomed to, namely shopping and purchasing online, is here to stay. However, that doesn’t mean consumers aren’t going to stores anymore.

“The idea that [offline and online shopping] is really separated no longer exists,” Welsh said. “Now, users are increasingly looking at what’s available in-store before they go out.”

Making Business Easier for Merchants 

In early 2020, Google made it free for all merchants — regardless of size — to list products on its Shopping marketplace. Furthermore, Google made it possible for merchants to list their inventory across its owned platforms, including YouTube and Google Maps, so that, as Welsh put it, merchants can “meet the consumer wherever they are.”

That shopping trend, Welsh predicts, is going to continue, with consumers branching out to different websites when browsing.

“Users are always looking for things; inspiration strikes anywhere,” noted Welsh.

Google is also partnering with multiple e-commerce platforms that merchants can integrate with, such as Shopify, WooCommerce, and GoDaddy.

A More Visual, All-in-One-Place Shopping Experience

Shopping online has often felt utilitarian, designed to be more practical than attractive, Welsh said. Now, Google Shopping is trying to bring a rich, visual experience to the forefront of online shopping. Think style guides, buying guides, “best of” lists, all in one place to help shoppers who tend to compare products and prices across brands and retailers.

Imagine you’re shopping for a new coat. You’re able to see the product info, watch a video of a stylist preparing her outfit of the day, read a buying guide that includes the coat, and find the coat at the store nearest to you, all without opening multiple tabs.

“Shopping journeys are constantly moving,” said Welsh. “People are looking to browse, discover and feel inspired. Shopping is so much more than buying, and we’re continuing to build visual experiences to help users discover many more merchants and many more brands.”