Ever wondered why when you search for a product online, you only get e-commerce listings even though a store nearby carries the product you’re looking for? Google has quietly been on a mission to fix this with their Local Inventory Program. And now, it's coming to South East Asia.
First, what is the local inventory program? Google is used by millions of people everyday to find anything from cars to pet food. While e-commerce websites have mastered Google as a sales channel, physical stores are only scratching the surface. Google’s local inventory program is designed to create a better balance between physical stores and e-commerce listings for local search results.
The way local inventory listings work is by showing local options alongside e-commerce options for product specific searches. For example, in the Google Shopping results below, the top section lists e-commerce listings but also a specific shop that carries the product that I am searching for.
This is a fantastic way for physical stores to drive online searches to in-store purchases as it provides an immediate opportunity for the shopper to go in store. When it comes to driving shoppers to stores, local inventory listings are 3x more effective than other ad types! There’s just one problem: due to the data requirements, listing local products can be prohibitively complex for your everyday store.
First, you need to have product listings for all the products that you carry, including product name, a detailed description, a high quality photo, price, and of course availability. And this information needs to be refreshed on a regular basis. When you consider the fact that an average small store in Singapore has over 1,500 unique products, it becomes obvious that generating these listings manually is simply not possible. In fact it would take you over 75 hours of work to do it once, and you would have to do it once a week, which equates to over 300 hours a month.
Second, you’ll need a verified Google Merchant account in order to submit your products. Creating an account is relatively straightforward. Getting your products accepted, however, is a little harder. Since millions of businesses around the world utilize Google services, the company has to have very specific criteria for product listings in order to ensure consistent quality.
Third, you’ll need to connect both your Google Ads account and your Google My Business account to run ads associated with your physical store locations. Getting all these accounts linked together is burdensome, but once complete they form a powerful toolset for to promote physical stores.
Fairmart was built to address these issues and help physical stores list their products online seamlessly. With the use of an IoT device, stores can simply scan the products at their point of sale and Fairmart will automatically generate a product listing and submit it to Google. By integrating directly with the physical store workflow, Fairmart provides a real time picture of products available in store to shoppers nearby.
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