Google Product Search "Eats" Small Merchants
I am not sure what the whole purpose of the recent changes and requirements in Google Shopping do or will mean.... But none of them have been a "good" thing for smaller merchants.
The data standardization within Google Product Search has put like products from very large retailers capable of deep discounts in the same page product lineup with smaller merchants who cannot compete on price. The smaller merchants who would generally seek to make their listing somewhat unique to grab longtail product searches can no longer do that. Smaller merchants in the product lineup with Pet Smart for example, have few options to elicit a click from a searcher.
For example, if I search on Google.com for "pet gear" I am given the following product choices:
Obviously, being a "regular shopper" I select the product with the stars! I am taken to a page where Google offers me the following retailers:
- Sam's Club
- The Sportsman Guide
I find it rather funny that the Sam's Club price is $12.16 more than Walmart. However, this set of results most disturbs me because nearly ALL of these pampered results are using a very "vanilla", UN-engaging, unimaginative, duplicate product description! That's a real pisser huh?
Nope, the real pisser is that hiding in the lower left under these results is....... the rest of us!
Soooooo, I click the next arrow 2 times before I find a single small retailer! I know you're probably mad, but it gets worse. I click and click all the way to page 5 of the results before finding a unique product description! That's bullshit!
Corporate America strikes again, the "little guy" is forced to reduce cost in order to compete.... Profit becomes nil and the retailer fails. All this while companies like Walmart continue to bankrupt manufacturers with their volume pricing demands so low that the manufacturer makes no margin. So, since Walmart eats companies, does this mean that someday there will be no choice, but rather companies like Walmart will become all their is.... "The Walmart Effect".
Is Walmart Good for America? provides a provocative examination of the impact
Wal-Mart has had on the U.S. economy. The documentary highlights the changing
relationship between manufacturers and the so-called "big-box" retailers, exemplified by
Wal-Mart, that has contributed to the bankruptcy of some American businesses and a
growing unemployment rate. While Wal-Mart supporters tout the advantages of one-stop,
low-cost shopping, others are alarmed at both the outsourcing that has made these low
prices possible and how large retailers affect smaller, local businesses. FRONTLINE
examines the winners and the losers as it documents how:
• Global retailers are superceding manufacturers in making decisions about
product quality, type and price.
• A basic flaw in the United States-China trade relationship is that we can afford
to buy Chinese products, but they cannot afford to buy ours.
• Wal-Mart has approximately 6,000 global suppliers; 80 percent of these are
• China is becoming the biggest producer of high-tech products in the world.
• TCL, a Chinese company, is now the largest producer of televisions in the world
and almost all of their U.S. exports go to Wal-Mart.
• The United States is exporting raw materials to Third World countries and
importing their manufactured products, which is a reversal of former economic
• In 2003, the United States had a $120 billion trade deficit with China and it is
expected to be even higher in 2004.
So what is Google's part in all of this?
I am seriously disturbed that, whether intentionally or not, Google is laying the framework for a capitalist shopping experience on their platform. This is America, our uniqueness, intuitiveness, drive, ambition and imagination make great companies.... Such as Google even. How can a company as big, powerful, American and creative "eat" these small retailers?