In what might be the greatest insult to industrial directories, Google is now going after the likes of ThomasNet and GlobalSpec, Grainger and eBay for the marketing and selling of industrial products.
ThomasNet is well 100 years old and the granddaddy of industrial directories. Initially, ThomasNet didn't play well with Google and its pages weren't indexed. Now they have partnered with Google and are showing up too much on the first page. Is that the reason Google appears to be out to eat their lunch? ThomasNet has never been a price-based industrial directory but that's exactly what Google wants, and eBay fears the same. GlobalSpec started out thinking manufacturing engineers wanted a single location where they could buy every nut, bolt and bracket for their wigit. But they could never please the vast differences regarding how things are made and purchased in the world.
Google Shopping debuted Jan. 21, 2013. It started with electronic components and then added test/measurement components -- mechanical componets recently followed, which include bearings, actuators and pumps.
Currently in Beta, all fees are waived for the first year. Two options later: pay or opt out. We'll sign up our clients for the first year free and see how it goes. After a year Google will show results. Currently Google is driving traffic to this industrial platform, which filters out consumer results. In the future this advertising platform will be similar to Adwords, look out Thomas Register Industrial Directory (ThomasNet). They may go to a Google Supplier Badge-type of verification. They will charge for that verification process. After that, pay per lead or click. Google partnered with Dun & Bradstreet to actually make a call and confirm that companies are legal in the US, etc. It's primarily focused on US, Germany and China now. Will open up later to global. Many top spot accounts are using this platform.
Currently not triggering on mobile yet, but will. You can type in the actual URL for now. They did this because they thought they were underserving the b2b. Fluke and Maxim semi-conductor are on board. They say this is especially good for first time, smaller businesses that are just getting started. This will be similar to TR product search, where you can input a part number and get relevant results. Will be building out filter for ISO, and other certifications like RoHAS.
Sounds great but our clients don't sell on price. Just about everything in B2B Google Shopping has a price. Our clients products require at least a small amount of questions by the sales team. Do they need a bracket? Did you forget to tell us one of the required specifications. And shipping isn't something you can quote quickly for large bulky items. For example, you can buy a cheap home safe online with $50 shipping but what they don't tell you is that it's your responsibility to get it off of the truck and into your home. Now we all are going to have to get used to automating our sales process enough so it can be done online. Zappos, the online shoe company, founded in 2009, is now $1.2 billion in sales. If they can successfully sell women shoes (including pumps) online confidently, then we can figure out how to make manufacturing engineers happy that we asked the right questions so they get their motors or pumps delivered -- right to their plant with everything they need to install it. Even if that means partnering with local mechanical service companies.
It all comes down to the industrial marketing media schedule, how do you decide where to invest your marketing dollars? You must get your web site at least potty trained, and you must create a simple, elegant affordable adwords program, but that where it gets hard to justify. When you're sad because your company decided not to attend a trade show, what's wrong? Sure business is a big party but it's a sporting event as well. Only a very few like MODERN MACHINE SHOP and POWDER BULK ENGINEERING have managed to survive. And that's because of great editorial. These are the trusted voice of the industry and it's an honor and a privilege to get published there.
In the end our job is to provide the sales force with new and interesting companies to learn about and go visit on their regular sales treks. It's a lot easier said than done. We spent last night combing SalesGenie for leads and today using Google Earth to fly over industrial parks, inspecting what's on the trailers going to and from factories.
It just might work!
If you liked this post you may also like, The Nitty Gritty of Creating an 2014 Industrial Marketing Media Schedule