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Sat Nov 1 2008 22:23:56

Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?

By: Ina Steiner

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Could Google be laying the foundation for an ecommerce platform unlike any other? Imagine that in the course of visiting your favorite sites, opportunities arise to purchase merchandise that is extremely targeted to your interests. Instead of searching for items that you want, they come to you.

Would you be more likely to purchase them, and as a seller, would you be interested in putting your items in front of an audience that is already geared to purchase them?
 
In Sunday's newsletter, David and I take a look at what Google could be planning, and ponders how its existing ad platform, recent policy changes and acquisitions could be a clue into how it would extend ecommerce across the Internet. What's compelling about this model is that, instead of attempting to drive ecommerce to a single core site, Google instead will be taking ecommerce and integrating it into already-vital online communities and content sites.






Comments (24) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?   Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?

by: noneya

Sat Nov 1 23:02:12 2008

Whoo Hoo!
Can't wait to read more about it!

Google rocks, what a possibly great new week we have a ahead of us! A president who can actually think and an ecommerce site run by intelligent people who know what they're doing!
Vote for the O!!!!

Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?   Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?

by: Juli

Sat Nov 1 23:25:23 2008

Ina -

Do you have this blog available with RSS?  I'd like to subscribe!

Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?   Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?

by: TekGems

Sun Nov 2 01:18:07 2008

Google is making it very easy for advertisers like us to create and place ads. A few days ago, I generated 10 ads for keywords I wanted to advertise on. I couldn't believe how much easier it has gotten since I first attempted writing ads. Now, they make it very easy to advertise locally, on specific web site, and even to create multimedia or graphic type ads.

For someone who writes about widgets, it makes a lot of sense to present widget ads. Maybe it will be a special category of AdSense for publishers...

Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?   Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?

by: tula

Sun Nov 2 01:59:21 2008

This is a fascinating idea. Given how the web has evolved, this new distributed method of ecommerce is a likely scenario. It plays exactly to Google's strengths and doesn't involve costly investment in hardware and personnel the way a centralized ecommerce platform does. It seem to be a lot like the cloud computing model that Google has been building in recent years with all of their applications and services. I have no problem visualizing an ecommerce "cloud" like this. This would be especially good for the small seller, too, since they would get a lot more visibility for their items regardless of where they're actually listed.

I hope your Google ecommerce vision turns out to be true!

Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?   Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?

by: Pat

Sun Nov 2 06:41:44 2008

Ina & David,

That was the most amazing prediction about the future of ecommerce that I've seen. You've put the pieces together beautifully, and in a way that even a novice like myself can understand.

If this ISN'T Google's plan, I certainly hope they are listening and reading!!

Pat

Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?   Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?

by: Gary

Sun Nov 2 07:58:18 2008

Feedfiles are the future. Base has over 525 million products. Now you know why google has never attempted to build an auction site and why Froogle was killed :-)

This will very much be like Amazon webstores. Ina also forgot to mention an important part, that Google payments has a built in reputation system.

Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?   Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?

by: Larry

Sun Nov 2 09:09:05 2008

This would certainly explain why eBay was in a frenzy to develop Web 2.0 products before JD came aboard.

If Google implemented this type of EveryWhere Ecommerce suggested in the article, it's essentially "Game Over" for eBay. And I suspect it will take a nice chunk out of Amazon as well.

Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?   Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Sun Nov 2 09:50:29 2008

Good point, Gary. I wrote about Google Checkout's feedback system in this August 2006 article
http://tinyurl.com/6eygh7

Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?   Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?

by: o.c.d.collectibles

Sun Nov 2 10:51:39 2008

I would worry a little bit about the huge influx of products and sales of items that maybe lots of people don't want to see. You know, like those spam ads you get through emails? They might end up taking over all of google's ad space. You know how non-g-rated stuff tends to overtake the ad market...

The other thing is, even with google shopping cart, how sure will the shoppers be as to how trustworthy a seller from "google-land" will be? A rating might not be good enough to inspire trust...

Of course, I'm certainly looking forward to seeing ebay and JD cry when they lose tons of sales thanks to it's ludicrous policies, but I'm not sure a loosey goosey search will be able to answer the need in sellers or buyers...

Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?   Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?

by: Patricia

Sun Nov 2 12:04:33 2008

This has confused me so I'll have to read it again...unless someone can simplify it for me.  What is the difference between this and Google Base/Google Adwords -both of which I use for my website?

Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?   Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?

by: tula

Sun Nov 2 12:21:23 2008

@Patricia,
Think of it as another ad placement, only instead of just an ad, you'll essentially have a "Buy Now" product listing with Google handling the connection between the buyer and seller. Google gets a commission from the seller for bringing the buyer to them, while the buyer is seeing products directly related to the topic of the web page he/she is browsing.

An example:
You're a cat lover and are browsing your favorite cat antics blog. There's a listing in the sidebar for a new cat toy.  You can click on the buy button and instantly drop that item into a Google shopping cart without having to navigate over to a third-party ecommerce system (where you'd presumably have to enter all your info). This assumes you have a Google account. Or you could look further at the listing for more info. So it would be like having one checkout system you can use regardless of where the purchases are coming from.

For the seller, this gets them targeted placement for their items, just like it would have for their text ads. A seller who offers cat toys would be able to have his items listed like this on any cat blog/site who participated in the Google program.  Google would pay affiliate-type revenue to those sites for this privilege. So, in the end, everyone gets what they want. It's kind of like taking affiliate style listings to a whole new level, blending Adwords, Google Base, and Google checkout together. This would definitely be disruptive innovation, if it truly is the direction Google is going (which I think is a very strong possibility).

Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?   Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?

by: toyranch

Sun Nov 2 12:49:46 2008

If this type of ad has the ablity to EASILY create new ads with a click, and without leaving the site you're on...  I can really see this taking off.  eBay is a nightmare of rules and takes too long just to create a listing.  A desktop widget lister or a listing uploader like Orbit's downloader/Grabber where a button overlay click brings up a desktop program to add a listing would be huge.

Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?   Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?

by: Sally that Girl

Sun Nov 2 14:17:24 2008

Ebay is too expensive to sell on. After Ebay takes their share, I am left with hardly anything to keep the lights on. In contrast, my eccommerce store does very well and I am given the freedom to run the store that best serves my customers. It's nice to know that Google is stepping up along with Amazon. Ebay's new strategy of BIG BOX will not work. Ebays customers will not adopt it at least under the Ebay name.

Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?   Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?

by: Moses Olaniran

Sun Nov 2 20:05:50 2008

A compelling and thought provoking...essay.  Your argument is right on target! Without a doubt...Google has the future of ecommerce.

Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?   Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?

by: Gary

Sun Nov 2 20:56:18 2008

Ina, now instead of me babbling about how base is the future, I can just point people to your article:-)

Your article has probably cause a few Comparision Shopping Engines (CSE's) to wonder how much longer they have.

You can already use the base api to search and display products on external websites. One such tool allows you to view your competitors feed attributes. I think thisnext, thefind, polyvore and many others are using the base API to populate their databases. In the base bulk file upload dashboard you can see visitors broken down by click from base and totals for API

I've been saying "525 million items in base and all they need is a buy now button" for awhile now.

@pierre is being tormented by a rooster you should look into that.. :-)




 

Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?   Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?

by: Ed

Mon Nov 3 16:01:41 2008

There's only one fly in the ointment Ina

Google Checkout is currently only available to merchants in a quite restricted list of countries - it would need to expand a lot before this could fully take off, though a limited rollout, perhaps with ad visibility limited to GCO merchant countries could be an entry step.

I like what you've put together, and I do hope it happens.

Just cautioning before people get carried away with it.

Ed

Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?   Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?

by: A

Mon Nov 3 16:26:53 2008

I think as sellers become more discouraged with the likes of ebay, fees of Amazon, search capabilities, penalties, fines, DSR's and the like of control, that Yahoo Merchants will look like a bargain to those that want some breathing room from the corporate giants. We've all become tired of Corporate Control as sellers. As for Google, have they ever really committed to anything? Aside from their search capabilities?

Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?   Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Mon Nov 3 23:37:51 2008

I've been conducting a 6 week long series of experiments with Best Match, and many sellers aren't going to like the results.

The following information will be posted on every possible relevant blog or website beginning tomorrow, November 4, and everyday thereafter until ebay makes changes. And I encourage everyone who reads this post to cut and paste it and then post it EVERYWHERE such as on
the financial blogs -- most especially the financial blogs--  media blogs, auction industry blogs, your blog, and related blogs and boards.

First, your feedback score, DSR atings, and the inclusion of ''free'' shipping have little if anything to do now with your visibility in Best Match. So these criteria are nothing more than more EBAY LIES disseminated for purpose of  manipulating sellers into making changes that will make ebay more profitable at the expense of your profitability.

This Big Brother style system also probably either uses cookies stored in a user's browser or stored online to push and otherwise manipulate buyers towards those sellers and those items that Best Match 'believes' they want to see.

Remember, ebay said Best Match is supposed to get 'smarter' the longer a user used it so they've already admitted yet another way of collecting data regarding consumer buying habits.

This alone should disturb ANYONE concerned with privacy issues.

Best Match is, therefore, all about an evil new method of manipulation -- seller manipulation by
setting up difficult to achieve criteria then changing the rules as ebay see fits when ebay sees fit and buyer manipulation by deciding what a buyer will and won't see. It is Big
Brother knocking at your front door.

In spite of ebay's public statement that it wants more Fixed Price listings and wants ultimately to eliminate or substantially minimize auctions, once again ebay is LYING.

In spite of ebay's statements that they're trying hard to eliminate fraud, nothing could be further from the truth with the most recent example being last week's decision to hide winning bidder IDs.

Third, auction style listings with their concomitant higher fees go near the top of Best Match when all other factors are even...or in most cases NOT even. Although ebay claims time
remaining in a listing is a component measured by Best Match, I saw very little evidence that this was true as auction style listings with a quantity of one with 29 days remaining and no free shipping often leapfrogged over hundreds of other listings even when the 29 days remaining seller had lower feedback, lower DSR scores, and didn't offer 'free' shipping than items offered by sellers with better scores and 'free' shipping whose items were pushed into Best Match oblivion.

Ebay's definition and implementation of its concept of POPULARITY, moreover, is equally duplicitous because it's primarily based on the number of watchers NOT necessarily buyers.

Many sellers will tell you that their competition often watches items and that watched items aren't necessarily an accurate gauge of popularity or even likely sale.

Consequently, sellers with many computers,  many user IDs or those who have a large family or many willing friends (as in one of hundreds of ebay shill rings) can and are quite easily manipulating this unannounced and CRITICAL criteria of Best Match.

They are indeed gaming the system and ebay does nothing about it because then they'd have to admit another critical flaw in their expensive new but broken
techno toy.

Fourth, sellers using FP listings who have high feedback and DSRs go to the middle and rear of Best Match. Sellers using FP listings of high dollar, slow moving, but highly profitable items now
are buried in Best Match.

Seller #1 who sells ten cheap items that, for example, earn ebay a FVF of $1.50 per item go ahead of Seller #2 who sells fewer but much more expensive items in which ONE sale of $1200 earns ebay far more in FVFs than the total FVFs from the sales of Seller #1's ten cheap items.

This system has put and is putting many sellers out of business right now who've been selling high quality, correctly represent items who have annually produced hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales.

In many cases, those remaining have gamed the system and have always gamed the system despite ebay protestations and press releases to the contrary, have in many cases been selling hot (as in stolen) merchandise and have long standing practices of deliberately misrepresenting their items. Ebay has done nothing about them in the past, and I guarantee you they'll do nothing
about them in future preferring instead to manufacture seller trangressions and suspend the 'erring' sellers so they can brag about their anti fraud efforts.

Fifth, if ebay has the ''algorithm'' capacity, moreover, to identify and weight all the factors it claims it does, then ebay also has the capacity to tag YOUR items so that no one sees them regardless of your feedback or any criteria ebay says it uses to give sellers visibility or lack thereof. If you've ever had any mysterious external tampering with your listings as many sellers have, you already know this is true.

Sixth, if you've been identified on the boards and blogs as a ''noisy'' tebellious troublemaker, then ebay could easily put you out of business just as it has already to thousands of ebay sellers already through nefarious abuse of the tools they have at their disposal.

I will continue running Best Match search tests, but I think in the end we will find that most of what ebay has publicly said about Best Match has been a series of deliberate lies designed to
imporove no one's bottom line but ebay's and their precious new diamond powersellers.

Based on the evidence to date, I think we'll find that a hefty percentage of remaining smaller
sellers will be those with no problem misrepresenting their merchandise to the gullible,
something for nothing mentalities (those who think they've received a diamond for the price of a
cubic zirconia) that inhabit ebay who don't know when they've been cheated, those who sell
stolen merchandise, and those who have gamed the system.

Why would any honest and ethical corporation want this sleazy image indelibly woven into their
already severely blemished reputation?

Why would any third party online business want ebay's growing bad reputation identified with
their brand?

Everyone can post information about how to defeat the Best Match system until ebay restores
''Ending Soonest'' as the default search mode and/or leave now because only those who cheat
and misrepresent will make any money this holiday season. Ebay is sitting on billions, have
borrowed a billion from taxpayers, but can't even muster a TV ad campaign this holiday season
opting instead for pathetic $10 coupons.

Those honest sellers choosing to stay and watch their listings sink deeper and deeper into the
Best Match morass will pay more in fees in the next two months than they'll earn in sales.

And The Donna Ho's golden parachute will grow even larger.

Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?   Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?

by: o.c.d.collectibles

Tue Nov 4 17:55:47 2008

Ming, some of us have stopped selling on ebay so we are not at any risk whatsoever of losing sales. That's what I find so exhilarating about revealing ebay's poor treatment of sellers to the outside world.

I make sure to post SOMETHING, at least ONE thing every single day. You never know who you are going to reach!

Today's "1" post went on "Blogging stocks", but if you manage to get on Motley Fool's forums, I understand some of the CEO's from ebay visit there from time to time.I go there and post from time to time too.

I even did one of those bets, and I've gathered points thanks to my position on ebay. I did say ebay would be a good buy...when it hits $5 and Donahoe leaves!LOL!

Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?   Is Google Poised to Rule the Ecommerce Universe?

by: Patricia

Wed Nov 5 12:00:59 2008

Thanks Tula - that would be super!!!

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