Google Local Shopping Tells Customers You Have It In Stock

Are you a local small business retailer? If so, Google made an announcement last week that you should pay attention to. Are you listening?

A few months ago Google began experimenting with Google Local Shopping, a service that lets customers find and buy products that are in stock nearby. Whether it’s a certain kind of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream or a special set of headphones, with one search customers can find the retailers in their area that sell exactly what they’re looking for. No more driving endlessly from store to store craving ice cream and hoping stores stay open late enough for you to find it. Huzzah! To encourage the feature, Google has made its help documentation requirements open to the public so that more local retailers can benefit and bring online shoppers directly into their retail stores.

There are a number of steps small business owners will have to go through if they want to get their products listed in Google Local Shopping. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  1. Step 1: Create a Google Merchant Center account.
  2. Step 2: Create an online product listing feed. [Here’s how.]
  3. Step 3: Apply for a separate Google Merchant Center account for your local product listings. Once it’s confirmed that you qualify, Google will send you an invitation link within three days to a new Merchant Center account created for your Local Shopping data.
  4. Step 4: Accept the new terms of service.
  5. Step 5: Enable local shopping.

Not every retailer who applies will be accepted into Google’s Local Shopping program; however, there are some things you can do to give your business its best shot at acceptance. Google notes that Product Search quality is a prerequisite for participation, so small business owners will want to make sure they’re submitting an accurate and complete data feed, including unique product identifiers. You also need to have your stores listed on Google Places, so you’ll have to submit and verify your store listings, if you haven’t already done that.

It does seem like a small amount of work to get listed; however, anything you can do to make your products more available and searchable is a good thing. Since Google is requiring that stores have Google Place listings, it will also be interesting to see how products are eventually incorporated on Place pages. Perhaps business owners who have enabled the Local Shopping feature will be able to display their products directly on their Place page or make them searchable for users. We know Google is only going to increase the importance of these pages, so anything you can do to make yours stronger than those of your competitors is a good thing.

11 Comments ▼

Lisa Barone


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

11 Reactions

  1. Excellent idea. However this service will only be a benefit if the product availability is accurately maintained and updated.

  2. You have to create TWO Google Merchant accounts? This seems a bit ridiculous.

  3. Lisa thanks for the great article our small business clients are always looking for tools to improve local search and local listings. Will make a point to share this with our small business friends. Thanks again

  4. Lisa,

    Thanks for bringing attention to this. Every product-based small business should be taking advantage of this opportunity. As you note, despite the work involved the potential upside is worth it.

  5. Lisa thanks so much for the step-by-step. I love Google local search, and this looks like something that can help a lot of businesses!

  6. Another wonderful article from you, Lisa. This is just one more reason why books such as Conquering The Chaos suggest centralization and being more analytic. Making inventory available to the customer’s awareness can only encourage sales, and make customer service a snap if well executed. Thanks again for sharing this.

  7. This is obviously useful, but as another commenter has mentioned, it will entail a lot of keeping up to date for the average small business owner.
    Would the one-person business ever have the time to do this?

    Cheers from Australia

    Peter Phillips

  8. I hope Google’s is better that the other “local” shopping websites. I’m tired of redirects to websites where I find that the “local” product is a “Web Exclusive.” Not helpful at all.

  9. What to do?

    I liked your article. I did what you said. I set up a place page, loaded the merchant center with my data feed. The data was activated “9000 items with <1% error rate. I sent Google the interest form for local shopping and I got the message saying
    "Thank you for your interest in Google Local Shopping!

    We're currently piloting the program with a limited number of retailers. While we recognize that many retailers are eager to be included in this program, we don't yet have a date for when we will release this more broadly. We appreciate your patience as we work to scale the program."

    It's been a week and I have herd back from them. Did they decline my request?

  10. This is obviously useful, but as another commenter has mentioned, it will entail a lot of keeping up to date for the average small business owner.
    Would the one-person business ever have the time to do this?

    Cheers from Australia
    Martin

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