From the Editor
By Ina Steiner
Google made a stunning announcement on Thursday when it said it would move Google Shopping to a pay-to-play model. Once the transition is completed this fall, individual merchants and online marketplaces such as eBay and Bonanza will no longer be able to send product feeds to Google and expect them to show up in search results. Instead, they will have to use Google Product Listing Ads, a paid-advertising program.
Is Google moving toward a marketplace model? Analysts from Wall Street firm Janney Montgomery Scott wrote, "As Google displays products from multiple retailers in a more visual display it begs the question when/if Google would introduce a "shopping cart" to potentially close the transactions which was denied by the head of GPS."
Many merchants, small sellers in particular, count on getting traffic from Google through the Google Shopping widget that appears in Google.com search results. And small online marketplaces count on the exposure their merchants' listings receive in Google to help them compete with giants eBay and Amazon.com. (I can tell you that they were caught off guard like everyone else.)
Google's Sameer Samat told me that moving to a purely commercial model would make Google Shopping results more reliable - it will ensure that when shoppers click on a product listing, the site will have the product in-stock and be available at the same price as advertised on Google Shopping.
eBay's Robert Chatwani said he was still evaluating the impact of Google's announcement and that eBay planned to fully participate in the new Google Shopping offering and would "continue to harness the power of Google's ad offerings on behalf of our sellers and merchants."
We're conducting a survey to see how online sellers believe this change will impact them. It's fascinating to read the comments that have come in so far, such as this one from an online seller: "They may be shooting themselves in the foot. Fewer Google Shopping hits = fewer purchases by shoppers = less revenue fees for Google Checkout. Good bye Google search, hello Bing." Please take the survey, and watch for the survey results in the EcommerceBytes Newsflash newsletter.
Here's our coverage of the Google Shopping news (we'll continue to follow developments), and links to blog posts where you can see what others had to say:
Google Shopping Product Search Kills Free Listings - May 31, 2012
Will Google Shopping Changes Hurt Sales of Collectibles?, AuctionBytes Blog
How Will Google Shopping Changes Affect eBay, Marketplaces?, EcommerceBytes Blog
Google and eBay executives Michaela Feller and Jeff King will be speaking on Tuesday on a panel hosted by Mercent, along with two analysts and a reporter from Reuters. Greg Holden will be covering the panel for EcommerceBytes, which could get interesting, as they are bound to be asked about Google Shopping's big announcement.
In fact, stay tuned all week as we cover the Internet Retailer conference in Chicago. About 8,000 merchants and vendors are expected, and we'll be there to cover all the news.
Julia Wilkinson, back from covering the Monsoon Conference in Philadelphia, takes us on a tour of shopping catalogs on the iPad in today's issue, while Greg looks at how shoppers are using social networking sites to share bad retail experiences.
Elad Darmon contributes a guest column highlighting some tools for creating the perfect eBay titles, and Michele Alice uncovers some interesting facts about pocket knives to see what makes them collectible.
Thanks for reading!
About the author:
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to email@example.com.
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