Google recently changed Google Shopping to a paid model, which could help or hinder its position in the shopping race

Google and Amazon are competing in a quiet, but bloody battle in the realm of Internet shopping -- and it looks like Amazon is winning.

When shoppers jump online, they generally do one of two things: search for the items they're looking for via Google, or go straight to Amazon for direct shopping results. The difference between the two? Google is a search engine with growing shopping capabilities via Google Shopping (which allows users to compare products and prices). Amazon, on the other hand, is an established e-tailer with an enormous store and competitive prices.

So which do you choose? Both are massive Web giants with much to offer, but in the realm of shopping, Amazon is just more popular. Last year, nearly one-third of shoppers jumped to Amazon to search for their purchases while only 13 percent used search engines like Google. Over the last year, product searches on Amazon have increased by 73 percent. Google Shopping, on the other hand, stayed "flat."

Google is hoping to change this around, though. Recently, Google started charging e-commerce companies to have their products appear in Google Shopping. This used to be free for these companies.

Google said that charging those who want to be included in Google Shopping results will help improve the search. Why? Mainly because e-commerce companies are more likely to keep current and accurate listeings of their products if they have to pay for it. Google Shopping is notorious for having out-of-date or incorrectly matched product listings.

But receiving higher quality data comes at a price for Google, as well. Some e-commerce companies don't want to pay for Google Shopping results (despite Google being the most popular search engine). Amazon is one of those that has removed its listings from Google Shopping. Others who've said they'd include products on Google Shopping are considering posting fewer listings to save money.

Google is moving forward with the idea, though, in order to get more money from online retailers and to improve the quality of its search results in Google Shopping.

Google started the paid listings this summer and will finish it this fall. When users search Google, some non-paid results will still show from across the Internet. However, a box with paid images and prices will show too. If a user jumps to Google Shopping specifically to search a product, only paid listings will show.

It remains to be seen whether e-commerce companies will go along with Google's new paid model in order to stay visible to shoppers, or look for other advertising opportunities. Google, which didn't say how much it's charging companies, said there has been "significant participation."

Google and Amazon are also competing in the tablet sector (even though Amazon uses an altered version of Google's Android operating system for its tablets). Google recently released its Nexus 7 tablet, a $199 7-inch tablet with more features and power than Amazon's $199 7-inch Kindle Fire. However, Amazon just boosted the competitive playing field with its new Kindle Fire HD line, which features 7-inch and 8.9-inch models with more power and more features for only $199 and $299 respectively. On the higher end, a 4G LTE version of the Kindle Fire HD will be released in November with an incredible $50/year data package.

Source: The New York Times

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