Google has invited Australian retailers to submit pricing, product and availability information for inclusion in its local Google Shopping search engine.
Launched this week, Google Shopping allowed users to browse a database of information that Google either collected from the web, or received from local merchants via the new Google Merchant Center.
It included listings for homewares, fashion and technology from retailers such as JB HiFi, David Jones, eStore, Harris Technology, Sony, Kogan and the Apple Store.
A Google spokesman declined to disclose how those merchants were included, noting that Google Shopping included both data submitted by merchants and information crawled from the web.
“The Google Merchant Center is the platform that enabled retailers to upload their list of available products, via a data feed, to Google Shopping,” she told CRN Australia.
“In the Google Merchant Center, retailers can manage their accounts, monitor their feeds and get performance information for their items.”
Google Shopping’s launch followed that of Bing Shopping in March, for which competitor Microsoft relied on information from Australian comparison shopping site Getprice.
Getprice spokesman David Whiteman welcomed Google's launch, stating that the Australian company did not view Google Shopping as a threat.
"The experience that we provide is very different from Google," he said. "Google is a search engine ... we are a shopping destination."
Whiteman expected Google Shopping to raise retailers' awareness of data feeds, which could spark new business opportunities for Getprice.
Whiel Google also crawled the web for product information, Getprice relied solely on data feeds submitted by its 1,200 retailer partners, who paid for exposure on a cost per click basis.
Google’s spokesman declined to compare its approach with Microsoft's, stating that Google was “just focused on providing a lightning-quick way to search the largest collection of sellers and products on the web”.
She also declined to provide details of local Google Shopping job functions, beyond that there were staff working on the service in Australia.
Google offered similar product search engines in the US, UK, Germany, Japan, China, Korea, France, Spain, the Netherlands, and Italy.
The service was built on Froogle, which was launched in the US in December 2002 and later renamed Google Product Search. The eight-year-old service still bore the ‘beta’ label.
Updated on 5 May at 4.45pm to include David Whiteman's comments.