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G downgrading drop shippers?
took photos of our building, asked questions
jsinger




msg:4248602
 4:16 pm on Jan 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

We're a brick/mortar retailer. But we compete against many drop shippers working out of tiny offices and even homes. Some drop shippers sell other, completely unrelated products... whatever is hot at the moment. None of them offer the level of telephone support we do 7 days a week. They come and go.

I have to think Google would like to downgrade pure drop shippers and boost long time sellers who have permanent physical presences... stores, warehouses, factories.

Recently Google visited us for about an hour and took photos inside and outside of our HQ. They asked questions about brands sold, services provided, hours etc. Nothing invasive. There was no charge.

I have to think that visit may move us up in their rankings against drop shippers. No doubt it will help us in local search but I wonder what the effect will be in their normal listings.

BTW, the photos they took have yet to show up anywhere. I was told that would take about three months.

How long before G starts working credit reports into the algorithms?

 

AussieWebmaster




msg:4248611
 4:28 pm on Jan 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

and you have yet to have a call asking about local advertising? One has to wonderif they were trying to add more info to their potential YP like services which they are starting to telemarket

arieng




msg:4248613
 4:32 pm on Jan 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google visited you and took photos of the inside of your facility and collected information about the company? That's the first I've ever heard of that and I'm very intrigued.

- Did you do anything to initiate this?
- Did they say what department was in charge of this?
- How are these photos and information going to be used?

gpilling




msg:4248625
 5:02 pm on Jan 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

Is there any possibility that it was a competitor in disguise that was trying to do some industrial espionage? Did they show up unannounced?

mvander




msg:4248634
 5:46 pm on Jan 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have to agree with gpilling...I would be a little suspicious of this...

jsinger




msg:4248636
 5:50 pm on Jan 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

A young girl about 20 phoned to set up an appointment to take the pictures. I was busy (and wanted some time to check out the offer) so I delayed about a month. She had an ID card and brought a nifty camera (a Nikon I think) and tripod. It seemed to have some video capability because, at one point, she walked thru our store from the front to the back with the "shutter" activated. I wondered whether it would be a sort of streeview dipiction of the inside of our business.

Yes, I worried about security. But she never asked to shoot our offices, attached warehouse or back door area. She recorded only what any in-store shopper would see. No employees or customers were recorded.

She was surprised that I knew so much about Google. She told me that many of the businesses she visited weren't online and knew little about G. She told me she visited about 10 businesses a day.

No doubt such a video visit will help G annihilate the old and very costly Yellow Pages. (good riddance IMO!)

---
- Did you do anything to initiate this?
- Did they say what department was in charge of this?
- How are these photos and information going to be used?

No. But we do spend money on PPC. Virtually nothing on local search. It's certainly tied in with their Place Pages.

jwolthuis




msg:4248641
 5:56 pm on Jan 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have to think Google would like to downgrade pure drop shippers and boost long time sellers who have permanent physical presences... stores, warehouses, factories.

I'm not sure why they "would like to" do that. Boost the search position of the website of the factory? How does that necessarily help Google's customers?

Since you are a brick/mortar retailer, you deserve higher ranking in Google SERPS's than your competition who is working "out of tiny offices". SERP's should be ranked according to inventory valuation, payroll, and showroom square footage. But once that's done, how do Google's customers benefit from that?

Demaestro




msg:4248649
 6:10 pm on Jan 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

Could be part of their upcoming "Augmented Reality" plans.

If you look at what they are promising and consider what they are doing here, it is possible they are related.

jimbeetle




msg:4248650
 6:21 pm on Jan 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

Is there any possibility that it was a competitor in disguise that was trying to do some industrial espionage? Did they show up unannounced?

Announced on Introducing Google Pages [googleblog.blogspot.com] back in April:

Business Photos [maps.google.com].

They asked questions about brands sold, services provided, hours etc. Nothing invasive. There was no charge.

I was curious as to why G would provide this service. After all, it's very simple and straightforward for folks to upload pics to their Places pages themselves. The "asking questions" bit might be the reason. Why?

jsinger




msg:4248652
 6:50 pm on Jan 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

I was curious as to why G would provide this service. After all, it's very simple and straightforward for folks to upload pics to their Places pages themselves.


True, but people don't do it themselves. Very, very few of even our online competitors have enhanced their G Place page with additional text, hours, credit card info and especially photos.

Google probably wants to draw in low tech service businesses that spend a lot in YPs but nothing online. Such as plumbing/sewer services and dry cleaners.

As for drop shippers, they're certainly in no hurry to show a picture of a basement with one desk in it :)

dpd1




msg:4248675
 7:42 pm on Jan 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

I wonder how much they pay the people doing it. Probably not much. So there's another profession downgraded yet again. It would actually be a pretty good niche for Photographers otherwise. You would just need to have strong marketing to get people to pull the trigger. It's true, most people stink at doing their own photography.

Brett_Tabke




msg:4249114
 9:14 pm on Jan 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

[google-latlong.blogspot.com...]

Just as you can't judge a book by its cover, you can't always judge a business by its exterior appearance. Yesterday we introduced Google Places and mentioned that we’re now starting a pilot project in select cities worldwide to take photographs of business interiors.

When customers are searching for the right local business, the setting, facilities, ambiance, merchandise, layout, or decor can be important factors in choosing where to go. If you want to find the perfect romantic restaurant for your anniversary dinner, you’ll want to find a place that has the right atmosphere. Or if you need to find a new gym, you’ll probably want to see what sort of equipment and amenities they offer. Place Pages currently feature images from business owners and third-party sources, but we wanted to supplement those with additional photos taken by Google photographers to provide consumers with more ways to get a sense of what awaits them when they step through the door of a business.

The photographs are shot by Google photographers who work directly with the business owner to arrange a time to do the photo shoot. Along with taking pictures of layout, facilities, and merchandise, we’ll also photograph displays on the storefront, like hours, rating decals, accessibility information, credit cards accepted, and posted menus -- and all of this will be done at no cost to the business owner. These photos will also appear alongside the others on a business’ Place Page, and can help customers (and potential customers) get a better sense of what a business has to offer and what sets it apart from others. Here are some samples from our early tests:

bwnbwn




msg:4249131
 9:45 pm on Jan 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

Here is a flip side. If you research some of my past post on dropshippers you are gonna be suprised at what I am about to say.

Lat month I sold our BMB to an employee and have been converting our ecommerce site to a dropship. I have found we actually now provide a better support service then before. I am using a distributor we have been buying from 11 years to complete the orders. They have a really good system were I am sent a tracking number and the customer is sent the tracking number. If we get a call about an order it is accessed very easy in thee way I have set up our system. I am sent notification of any out of stock items. This lets us notify the customer since we do not process the card until after I get the tracking shipment, and we can give them an eta of the shipment or they are free to go elsewere to buy their product.

I was an all out against dropshippers but now that I am one I am wonder why I didn't do this years ago. I have more time less stress and better customer service.

Maybe nothing to do with the post here, but since it was brought up I figured I would come out of the closest and give my new view about dropshipping.

Google is welcome to come take a picture of my basement anytime. :)

dickbaker




msg:4249167
 11:06 pm on Jan 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

Welcome to the club, bwnbwn. I think you're going to like the low overhead. It's sure easier to sleep at night.

jsinger




msg:4249174
 11:37 pm on Jan 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

"It's sure easier to sleep at night"

Perhaps too easy.

How have you protected yourself from the shipper contacting your customers?

Even if he can be trusted (since you have a long relationship with him) what about one of his employees opening his own business with contact info stolen from work on a thumb drive?

What if ownership of the trusted distributor changes? At some point that's certain to happen. Can you trust his son or someone who buys the business? Or acquires it in bankruptcy?

dickbaker




msg:4249233
 4:15 am on Jan 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

jsinger, I have multiple distributors who all drop ship. There's one I use 90% of the time because they're a bit less expensive than the others.(By "less expensive" I mean 4-5%). If they closed or changed business plans, I'd have to raise my prices a bit, but not up to MAP.

If one distributor or an employee decided to be a competitor, I'm sure I could tough it out. They'd have to learn my niche's retail business, and they would lose their distributor status with the manufacturers. IOW, they'd have to buy from other distributors if they wanted to price below MAP, or charge MAP if they wanted to buy direct.

bwnbwn




msg:4249366
 2:26 pm on Jan 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

I am not worried either because to do business with them you have to have a FID number and business name so with the distributor trying to get a 50 dollar a month sale to a person in NY makes no sense.

They need me and I need them so why try to work against each other makes bad business.

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