Google of­fers free list­ings to ease re­la­tions with re­tail­ers 10

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Technology Intelligen­ce - By Hannah Boland and Mor­gan Meaker

GOOGLE has said it will al­low re­tail­ers in Europe to list their prod­ucts on its shop­ping search engine for free from next month, just days af­ter the com­pany faced ac­cu­sa­tions it was fail­ing to fix com­pe­ti­tion is­sues on its e-com­merce site.

Un­til now, com­pa­nies have had to pay to have their items show up on the

Num­ber of coun­tries in Europe where the search engine gi­ant is to launch a Lo­cal Ser­vices Ad fea­ture, in­clud­ing the UK

Google Shop­ping tab, which can ap­pear at the top of the search engine when users search for spe­cific items.

Google is also launch­ing a Lo­cal Ser­vices Ad fea­ture in 10 coun­tries across Europe, in­clud­ing the UK. This would show users a list of lo­cal pro­fes­sion­als close to them, and pro­vide re­views and li­cence in­for­ma­tion for their ser­vices.

Searches on Google con­tain­ing “avail­able near me” had more than dou­bled glob­ally, the com­pany said, as the Covid-19 pan­demic meant many peo­ple were stay­ing closer to home. Matt Brit­tin, Google’s Euro­pean pres­i­dent, said it had be­come clear that re­tail would be “vi­tal for an eco­nomic come­back” for many re­gions.

“We want to do ev­ery­thing we can to help re­tail­ers re­spond to the need to be more on­line than ever be­fore.”

The an­nounce­ment comes just days af­ter it faced crit­i­cism on how ri­vals can use its shop­ping tools.

Ear­lier this week, a study com­mis­sioned by ri­val shop­ping com­par­i­son sites claimed Google had failed to ad­dress com­pe­ti­tion is­sues, and that their vis­i­bil­ity on its site had dropped since the US gi­ant was fined by EU reg­u­la­tors in 2017.

Mr Brit­tin said Google dis­puted the num­bers and the method­ol­ogy of the re­port, and since remedies were en­forced three years ago, price com­par­i­son sites had at­tracted bil­lions of clicks.

“What we’re try­ing to do here is ev­ery­thing we can to help re­tail­ers find more cus­tomers,” he added.

Shop­ping is only one area where Google has faced com­pe­ti­tion con­cerns in re­cent years. The EU opened an in­depth in­quiry into Google’s $2.1bn (£1.6bn) ac­qui­si­tion of Fit­bit last month.

Reuters yes­ter­day re­ported that the deal is set to get the green light af­ter Google of­fered con­ces­sions to avoid shut­ting out ri­val fit­ness track­ers.

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