I recently set up a Yahoo! store for one of my clients, and I thought I would relate my experience in getting their products listed in Froogle (http://froogle.google.com). There have been a number of prior postings regarding Froogle in this board, some of them innaccurate in my opinion. As you may know, Froogle is Google's beta shopping search engine. First of all, Froogle automatically indexes many of the more popular web stores on the Internet. However, Froogle does not index every online store, and in fact, it is against their policy to list stores selling weapons, adult items, and some other things.
All Yahoo! stores have the ability to export all of their products into an XML file. (http://store.yahoo.com) The latest store export XML file is always available at a standard URL. The problem is that Froogle currently does not have the ability to process and import these XML files (verified with Froogle tech support), and even if they did, they would not automatically process those files because they could contain some of the prohibited items. (A crawler that could understand these XML files could theoretically build an index of all Yahoo Stores, of which there are hundreds if not thousands.) Therefore, someone with an online store would want to actively get their products listed in Froogle.
In order to get my client's products listed in Froogle, I first signed a merchant agreement with Froogle online, whereupon they emailed me an FTP account and instructions for their data feed. The Froogle data feed has to be in tab-delimited format. You may be surprised that it is not in XML, but I think it's a good choice, because XML, despite the hype, is really difficult to work with.
I then wrote a perl script which retrieves the Yahoo store export, parses the XML into a Froogle data feed, and transfers the file via FTP to Froogle. (The code is available here: [somacon.com...]
I also found somewhere online a Java program that does the same thing.
By the way, Froogle's merchant program is completely free. The advantage of scripting the export is that updates are sent more rapidly to Froogle, whereas their robot may only visit a site once every few months. The export can be as often as every day, and must be at least once per month.
In any case, my client's products were listed in Froogle within a few days. After about a week now, despite being listed, the store still has not gotten a single referral from Froogle. This means that Froogle is still not very popular with shoppers, in fact, I'd say almost unknown. Interestingly, the store has already gotten orders through Google itself, because Googlebot quickly indexed the store, which was built on an expired domain. So one can see that Google and Froogle are somewhat overlapping in function. Froogle might be more suitable for price sensitive shoppers looking for commodity items, competing with [pricewatch.com...] or [shopper.com,...] whereas Google may be more suitable for people looking for reliable sources for specific, non-commodity items, for which there is no well-known competition, except maybe the Yahoo or MSN shopping networks.
I'd like to hear other people's experiences with Google's Froogle search engine.