Last October when Google Base was announced it was met with much speculation. Defined by Google as "a service designed to allow anyone to upload information about anything", it is intended for a wide variety of content to be uploaded by a wide variety of Internet users. While not specifically user-focused or for selling online, it still comes as no surprise that Google Base is seen by many as having an emerging role in e-commerce.
Google Base enables content providers to upload data with lots of attributes and descriptions (like recipes, events or real estate listings) to Google, so that the information can better be found when searched on Google.com and other Google properties, such as Google Local and Froogle.
The recent addition of the Google Payments, an e-commerce transaction handler (currently in beta) that become available to a limited number of Google Base users provided fuel for much speculation.
According to an official Google Base blog posting, for buyers, this payment feature will provide a convenient and secure way to purchase Google Base items by credit card. For sellers, it integrates transaction processing with Google Base item management. The Google Payment beta is currently open to only a small limited number of sellers, but Google expects to include more over the coming months.
At its heart, Google is all searching and relaying that information back to users through other Google properties. The goal of Google Base is to improve the overall quality and breadth of Google Search results through content acquisition. Similar to a database, Google Base enables content owners to describe and assign attributes to the information they upload and use this metadata (definition) to better target search results to what users are looking for.
Using Google Base for E-Commerce
Many in the commerce business have been steadily getting their data uploaded to Google Base. You can find over a million products listed for Barnes and Noble alone, while online retailer Perfume County has 4,800 products in Google Base. When searching through Google Base you can also find products from Shop.com and Buy.com. In the midst of cars for sale, video game reviews and shortbread cookie recipes, Google Base seems to be quite popular with photographers who are selling their photos online.
Grover Sanschagrin, Vice President of Marketing for Photo Shelter sees many of the professional photographers using their service also adding listings to Google Base. Sanschagrin believes that Google Base is just one of many ways to increase traffic to the photographer's archives hosted with Photo Shelter.
"Photographers are presently manually entering their listings in Google Base and think it is worth the effort. We're in the process of making Google Base submissions an automatic process - it is a good way to get more traffic for the photographers and we have noticed some of these listings show up in Google searches. We'll do anything we can within our system to generate traffic to users' photo archives."
While Google Base isn't marketed as an area to search and find items online, the reality is that one can be expect to see this highly organized data being distributed to Google search, Local or Froogle, and this has many uploading data now to be ready for when Google Base search results do hit mainstream searches in a standard (non-beta) format. For Google it is about content acquisition; but for e-commerce it still is all about making sure your products can be found by the consumers who are searching.
Channel Advisor, which provides auction and marketplace management software and services to a wide range of sellers, has already integrated Google Base submissions into their system. A merchant using Channel Advisor will have their products uploaded to Google Base automatically.
Michael Jones, COO of Channel Advisor, agrees that there is more to Google Base than just product and data listings, and he definitely sees some competition between e-commerce sites like eBay and Google. A lot of eBay traffic already comes from Google, because consumers are often able to get better search results using Google. Many eBay power sellers have their own e-commerce Web site and, right now, searching through Google Base will often take you right to their store front, bypassing the eBay listings.
The Google Highway
"I think Google and eBay do compete in trying to get the consumer to find the purchase. Google holds the larger search market share, and with that they are able to drive traffic to where they want it. As Google becomes more obsessed with making sure people get more exact data and products fed though a Google search, one does wonder exactly what this will do to eBay and other e-commerce Web sites," Jones said.
From a commerce point of view, Google properties have a lot to offer. Early reports on Google Base and Google Pay mention the services are very simple to use. It makes finding items easier, and early Google Pay beta reports suggest the newly integrated feedback system will help boost buying confidence in consumers.
According to Jones, some of their merchants' products that were listed within Google Base are showing up in both Froogle and Google searches, and indexing is fast. He also pointed out that Google Base data can be defined by local zip code, which gets mapped to Google Local, and that you can also integrate the service with the Gmail beta, which is integrated with Google Talk (also in beta).
Jones believes that Google is making it very easy for consumers to find exactly the item they want, at the price they want to purchase at.
"By providing a way to search for and buy specific products through a Google search, shoppers won't necessarily get off the Google highway at the eBay or Amazon exits. What is so amazing about this is that the world has been looking for a much simpler way to find products online and make buying easier. Google proves that this kind of stuff can be made a whole lot easier than it presently is," he said.
At an e-commerce level, merchants are able to use Google Base and other integrated (or believed to be integrated soon) Google properties to get more traffic and to sell more online. For consumers, they will continue to use Google to find what they are looking for easier and faster.
Google Base is free to use for those who register an account. Google also does not impose any storage or space limitations. Items can be listed individually, or large organizations and businesses also have the option to submit uploads in bulk using standard XML formats. The official Google Base Blog tracks new developments on Google Base, and you can find out more about joining some of the Google services through Google Accounts.
Based in Nova Scotia, Canada, Vangie Beal has been writing about computers and technology since the early 90s. She's also the managing editor of Webopedia (www.webopedia.com).
|Do you have a comment or question about this article or other e-commerce topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com E-Commerce Forum. Join the discussion today!|
Webinar: Should You "Switch-Off" Your ACD? Hear Why CareFirst BCBS is Switching to a SIP-based Contact Center Event Date and Times: Wednesday May 29, 2 PM Eastern / 11 AM Pacific Wednesday...
Business-Grade Video Conferencing for SMBs: Enhance Your Employees' Productivity Today Small and mid-size organizations (SMBs) are encountering a transition in their businesses, and they must react to the new way of working to stay...
Data Protection Made Simple Increasing demands placed on IT, along with tightening budgets has prompted IT leaders to seek out alternative technologies and improved methods of...
DDoS Mitigation: Best Practices for a Rapidly Changing Threat Landscape Given the extraordinary and rapid changes in the DDoS terrain, traditional DDoS mitigation tactics are no longer sufficient to protect an...