Whether you are looking to buy a power tool or neon jeans online, chances are you start your search on Google or Amazon.com. But which one?
The two companies are waging a war to become the pre-eminent online mall. And e-commerce sites large and small are caught in the cross-fire. As for consumers, the question is whether they will see a full range of products available online.
Google is inching into e-commerce with products like its comparison-shopping service, Google Shopping. At the same time, more people are using Amazon as a search engine to look for what they want to buy.
Trying to stave off the competition from Amazon, Google has recently changed Google Shopping to require e-commerce companies to pay to be included in shopping results, so product listings are now ads.
Google says the change will improve its shopping results because retailers will list accurate items if they are paying.
By requiring retailers to pay for listings, "incentives are aligned to make sure the data we're receiving is of a higher quality," said Sameer Samat, vice-president for product management for Google Shopping.
Although some retailers agree, and say the move could even help their sales, others are panicking. Some say they will not pay for listings or will include fewer products, which could shrink the selection shoppers see on Google.
Meanwhile, Amazon has already removed its listings from Google Shopping. Looking for a Kindle? Google Shopping shows Kindles from Best Buy, eBay and sites called Fumfie and Glyde - but not Amazon.
A search on the main Google site still shows search results from across the Web, which are never paid for, but it also brings up a box with product images, prices and descriptions that are paid for. If someone searches for a product on Google.com/shopping, all listings will be paid ones. - NYT