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Google is making it easier to buy from small businesses

Google is making it easier to buy from small businesses


New updates coming to Google Shopping will provide more information about retailers at a glance and allow merchants to easily jazz up their product listings using generative AI.

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Google logo with colorful shapes
Product Studio, Google’s AI-powered image editing tool for merchants, is rolling out in the US starting today.
Illustration: The Verge

Google is introducing new Shopping features that allow merchants to quickly update product imagery using generative AI and make it easier to display important shop information to attract new customers.

Starting today, Google merchants in the US can label themselves with a new “small business” attribute that makes it easier for shoppers to identify mom-and-pop-style stores. Stores that carry this new attribute will be clearly labeled as a small business in Google Maps, and products sold by these merchants will feature a “small business” tag in Google Search.

A phone displaying the updated product listing in Google Search, displaying the small business attribute.
This should make it a little easier to support small, local businesses over large corporations.
Image: Google

These updates only apply to US-based retailers using Merchant Center or Business Profile, including the Google & YouTube shopping app on Shopify. Google said in its press release that the small business attribute will be automatically applied to some listings based on factors like the business’s web traffic, number of store locations, and how many products it offers. Retailers can remove these attributes via the Merchant Center or Business Profile settings.

Matt Madrigal, VP / GM of Merchant Shopping at Google, told The Verge that the “largest businesses” will not have the option to display the small business attribute and that the company is relying on businesses to self-identify. Madrigal adds that “only the merchant or someone authorized to manage their Merchant Center account or Business Profile on Google can enable the setting” but did not mention if there are protections to prevent the “small business” label from being abused by drop shippers or others that don’t fit the spirit of the term.

A side-by-side comparison of the knoweldge panel in Google Search displaying old vs updated information.
The updated knowledge panel clearly displays store reviews to help you avoid questionable businesses.
Image: Google

The knowledge panel in Search that displays details like where a retailer’s headquarters are located and how many people it employs is also being expanded to show additional shopping details. This includes reviews, shipping and returns policies, customer service information, and promoted deals (which feels like just another place to stuff product ads), alongside a snapshot of business information that merchants are already sharing on their Merchant Center accounts.

These updates are rolling out “this month”  for merchants on desktop and mobile in the US, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, India, and Brazil. According to Madrigal, Google will only display deals within the knowledge panel for desktop users in the US “for now.”

A screenshot of Googles Product Studio featuring a face serum.
Product Studio was initially teased back in May, but US merchants can now finally use it to tinker with their listing images.
Image: Google

Finally, Google is also releasing Product Studio — an AI-powered tool it teased back in May that allows Shopping merchants to make visual adjustments to product pictures, such as instantly removing backgrounds and increasing low-resolution images. Users can also generate new backgrounds using text-to-image prompts to personalize product images without a studio setup, allowing them to jazz up their listings for things like seasonal campaigns. Product Studio starts rolling out today to all Merchant Center Next users in the US. It’ll also be available via the Google & YouTube app on Shopify.