What's the future of Google Shopping?

What is the future of Google Shopping- what is the next change we expect to see for it?

More structured data! If you think about it, Google is now competing with Amazon. Sure, they don't carry inventory, or process that many payments (yet), but Amazon is successful in part due to the reach and breadth of their marketplace--they explore other product categories on their "partner's" dimes, then compete directly with their most successful "partners". Google is skipping the actually-stocking-and-shipping bit, but they're otherwise in the same game. And here's the funny part--Amazon is better at SEARCH in this context. Of all things for Google to fall behind on, that's a surprising revelation, at least to me.

However, if you think about the difference between using Google Shopping, and shopping on Amazon, Google is only good if you already know exactly the product you want--you practically have to have the SKU or UPC in-hand to get anywhere. Amazon has done a much better job, so far, on identifying quantifiable facets of these products (think voltage, inseam, color, language, or any other narrow-by), and making their insanely heterogeneous catalog navigable. Google is just starting to get there, but they rely almost exclusively on the data provided by Merchant Center feeds. Amazon is somewhat limited by their partner feeds, too, but because they're stocking so many products, they have a directly vested interest in getting it (mostly) right.

Google's product data ends up being a democracy--if six of your competitors are calling this widget a "wadget", well, no amount of being "right" is going to make it a "widget" to Google. There just isn't enough structured data available, tied to distinct UPCs, so they're going to keep reading from those Merchant Center feeds. UPC originality becomes a limiting factor, too, as MPN (manufacturer part numbers) and SKUs aren't anywhere near unique. So, if you're Google, you're aware of that weakness, and in order to increase the number of people shopping on your platform, you're going to keep making it easier to "browse" rather than just "find", and you're going to see them close the gap on payments, too--which they're already working on in some cases.

Have questions?  Drop me a line via the Contact form--I love to talk shop.

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