Google has a very important new service rolling out for those of us in B2B marketing, and it’s received very little coverage, particularly over this side of the Atlantic. It’s called Google Shopping For Suppliers and I’m fairly certain it’s going to be something nearly all of you are going to want to include in your marketing plans in due course.
There are good reasons why Google Shopping For Suppliers might be news to you. Firstly, it’s only “in beta” for now. Secondly, it’s only running in the USA, the Far East and, it’s reported, Germany. Thirdly, it’s only running in the electrical and electronics sectors at the moment. So don’t worry, you haven’t missed the bus.
What is Google Shopping For Suppliers?
Realising that in the B2B sector, most stuff isn’t bought in online stores and never will be, Google has clearly been looking at something which worked in the pre-internet world but has never been replicated well online: the supplier directory. Despite its horribly unprofessional-sounding name, I think that’s what Google Shopping For Suppliers sets out to emulate.
For the buyer, the opportunity to type in a generic product and get a list of consistently-presented suppliers, with a standard set of information next to each, must be attractive. For the supplier, appearing in such a list will be essential – and if Google can deliver on its promise of only including verified, genuine suppliers, both buyers and sellers should find this a good thing.
How will Google Shopping For Suppliers work?
So, search for “blue widgets” on Google, and – if appropriate – alongside the search results, you’ll see a “Find suppliers of these products on Google” panel. This will look like the current “Shop for these products on Google” panel you’re probably already familiar with:
So imagine that panel above, but without the prices. That’s what the Google Shopping For Suppliers panel on the Google results pages will look like. Just you alongside a couple of competitors. Clicking on this panel will then take buyers to a page which shows various matching products, with photos and brief, standardised descriptions. Next to each will be a panel showing the supplier of that product. Clicking on the product side will take you to a detailed product page, again with the supplier panel, and clicking on the supplier panel on either page will take you to a detailed company profile page.
Google says it’s going to make a big deal out of company certifications (such as ISO9001), and verification of the supplier’s contact details, which is good. To have a company profile page, on a high-profile Google service like this, is an opportunity which no company can afford to miss. I’m guessing that even standard Google searches on your company name might be given that page as a result option in the future.
If all this sounds like a lot of work (you may have hundreds of product lines you might want included), then I suspect it might be. But I’m pretty sure it’ll be worth the effort. However, if you think it’s going to be a fantastic new free route to market, think again. This initiative is going to cost, and thanks to Google’s ubiquity of use amongst your customers, the search engine may turn out to have you over a barrel. In the US, there’s a US$1,000 annual fee, and that’s “Promotional Beta Pricing” too. However, verifying the eligibility of each supplier will, I imagine, require some manual work on Google’s part, so there was never any chance of this being free. This fee gives you unlimited display of your products and clickthroughs to your website …for now. Whether the service will become a pay-per-click product in the future probably depends on how well it works. I can’t see it failing to do so.
Then there’s the cost in time and effort of getting all of your company’s products itemised and uploaded to the system. If you don’t have that time, whether or not it’s feasible to outsource the job is open to question. Certainly it’d be a task which would cost hundreds, and more likely thousands, of pounds. But I believe it’ll pay for itself.
How do I get on Google Shopping For Suppliers?
If you’ve got a US-based operation and are supplying electrical or electronic products, you might be able to get into Google Shopping For Suppliers now, although the companies I know who already feature have all been “invited”. Everyone else will just need to wait. I’ll keep a close watch on what’s happening and will be in touch with all of our Google AdWords management clients as soon as there are any developments of interest.