November 29, 2005
If you go to the Froogle homepage, you see example search terms under the search box:
E.g. “digital camera” or “car near San Francisco”
Note the “San Francisco” location modifier. I typed in that search and got a number of results. I noticed the search had defaulted to “Local Shopping” and separated by search box entry into two entries in two separate boxes: the keyword and the geography. I also noticed that they had a link to Online Shopping which represented their “non-local” results.
As with Google Local, it appears as if they had a few select providers give them listings (and is probably why the rumors were that they were asking for the listings). For cars, I see eDirection.com listings, with attribution. The icons open up information and even show the pictures from the data provider. Clicking on the listing takes you to the data provider’s site.
When I tried searching for router netted results for Circuit City and CompUSA, among others…companies who I know use Cross Media Services (check out their “interactive weekly ads”). Most people these days know Cross Media through a flanker brand known as Shop Local which has deals with many newspapers including the LA Times. (You might have also heard of Sales Hound which is another of their flanker brands).
Anyway, ShopLocal is providing the company name in bold red but they still get the traffic instead of that attribution since the links click through to them. They probably have less to worry about since they are one of only a few sites that collect product and location information nationally at a local level and own the direct relationships with the data providers (i.e. CompUSA) and the distribution channels (i.e. LA Times). I don’t know of many sites that do this at their scale. StepUp attempts to do this and lists the major stores in their results but I don’t think they have as many large distribution (not to mention I liked ShopLocal’s results and interface better).
However, this brings up another issue. The first item in the Google results for Shop Local, however, took me to an item that had expired. Not a good user experience. Oh well…it just launched and I’m sure it will get better (as will StepUp). This indicates a need for more frequent data pulls from ShopLocal into Google’s index. If you add the need for inventory awareness, this would only exacerbate the problem. What else is next? How about integration of Google Base?
…and don’t forget…all this focus on shopping is not by chance…we are in the shopping season!