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Point Of View

Google Updates Its Product Listing

Joshua WIlliams

Background

As of May 16th 2016 if you sell a product that has a Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) (a digital barcode) on Google, it will be compulsory to include it in your feed, or else those items will be disapproved.

 

Details & Implications

 Many manufacturers make multiple products that are extremely similar when looked at within the product page of a website. Think of a time when you have tried to order something as simple as a TV,  it’s amazing how hard it is to work out if you are comparing the same model across different websites. The difficulty in confidently identifying products, is what makes product comparison sites difficult to build. Despite the fact Google has created relatively robust face recognition software, the company has not come close to replicating this with products, so Google has decided to progress by forcing merchants to tell it exactly what each product is.

 

Merchants must now use a standardised identifier to make sure Google can compare Golden Delicious apples to Golden Delicious apples. The introduction of GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) uniquely identifies any product that arrives in any kind of packaging – barcodes are usually digital versions of a GTIN. The GTIN is as familiar to logistics people as GRPs are to media people. They act as a common language between warehouses and companies to ensure large companies are able to efficiently transport goods from one business to another without needing someone to key the actual order details each time.

 

Google’s change ensures that it is getting access to this consistent data and can therefore innovate on top of the existing infrastructure instead of creating its own framework from scratch. If merchants do not comply with Google’s decision, their product listing ads will simply stop working and their products will not appear within Google shopping. This will obviously impact volumes for merchants, so there will be a push on their side to include the GTIN.

Summary

After receiving the updated product listing feeds, Google will have an interesting new data source – the exact products on sale from a range of merchants and the ability to compare. Therefore, Google can start ranking these merchants on how quickly they stock new products, how successful they are at keeping items in stock and how broad \ unique a range they sell. Even more interestingly they can compare the prices these merchants offer, so give a guide as to how competitively merchants price. Google can now also start looking at extending quality scores to include metrics based on what retailers sell. Furthermore, other companies will be making these standardised identifiers available on the internet, making it potentially easier for the next Kelkoo to emerge.