Earlier in 2012, Google announced that it would be changing the way that Google Shopping worked and shifting over to a paid to play model. To anyone using the comparison shopping engine, this should be old news. So instead of rehashing the changes to the program today’s article will focus more on how to deal with these changes and alter marketing efforts accordingly.
Hopefully, the move by Google to monetize their comparison shopping engine will allow some of those other comparison shopping sites that Google forced out around 2002 – 2005 to return, or some new player to the online comparison shopping game. While that is a long term outcome that would help small business compete with Google’s continued shift in focus to large retailers, it’s not one that the small online ecommerce business can wait for. Thankfully, there are still successful alternatives small ecommerce businesses can leverage to their advantage.
The first alternative available is Bing’s merchant service. Bing’s service has both free and paid components to it depending on the level of control available. The free service works in much the same way that Google’s comparison shopping tool used to. An automated feed from the submitting ecommerce site updates the product listing within Bing’s network and those results get served to relevant product searches. Ecommerce sites that do not wish to automate their feed have the option of utilizing the Shopping.com network to manually manage their product line and take advantage of the paid services offered. Products managed via Shopping.com appear within the Bing results as well as in the Shopping.com results.
There is also another comparison shopping site out there that is a favorite of the Six Demon Studio marketing team called TheFind.com. Like most comparison shopping sites, TheFind allows for an automated product feed making integration into TheFind almost invisible to an ecommerce retailer. What makes TheFind a favorite of Six Demon Studio is the additional services they offer. Retailers willing to put in a small amount of effort can join TheFind’s UpFront Merchant program. This program is designed to ensure that ecommerce retailers are verified and update their product feed on a regular basis. This small amount of effort gives the retailer preferred status over other non-verified retailers or product submissions that may be outdated.
TheFind is also offering a new service called Glimpse that tries to capture the Pinterest craze but marrying a user’s social media “likes” via Facebook to the extensive product data base they have to better match users to products. While Pinterest has exploded due to the fact that the social media outlet is as much about self-expression as well as discovery; Glimpse is designed more around the discovery approach and shopping is fun for the sake of shopping. It is highly doubtful that Glimpse will be David to Pinterest’s Goliath, but it does offer a valuable outlet for ecommerce retailers to touch customers in a focused manner. Glimpse is available via Facebook as well as apps for the Apple iPad & iPhone along with an app for the Droid platform.
Ecommerce retailers don’t need to completely abandon the new Google comparison shopping engine in favor of the other worthy and viable options listed here. Instead, the days of putting all their eggs in the Google basket are now over and a broader comparison shopping marketing effort is required – which could be argued should have been taking place all along. Online retailers wishing to stay on Google won’t be able to do so for free, but a marketing campaign of .01 cents per impression is completely valid at this time within the Google pricing structure. While this will allow for a product line to stay on Google’s comparison shopping engine, it remains to be seen how effect this will be at driving traffic and it can almost be assured that it will not be as effective as it was under Google’s free model of comparison shopping.
For more information regarding the alternatives presented here or questions on how your ecommerce site can integrate these alternatives into your marketing efforts please feel free to contact the Six Demon Studio marketing team and we’ll be happy to help find a solution that works for you.