Doing Buying Guides the Intuit(ive) Way


This is potentially a big development, though it has not garnered much fanfare in the press: Google has announced a partnership with Intuit, publisher of the ubiquitous QuickBooks software, to provide seamless integration between QuickBooks and both Google Maps, Google AdSense and Google Base. Interesting but not huge news you say? Wait, there's more.

Intuit, using technology from a company it recently acquired called StepUp Commerce, will create an interface between Google and QuickBooks that will allow businesses to not only upload their product information to Google Base, but real-time inventory status as well. Google, with help from its new best friend Intuit, has put all the pieces together: discovery by location and by product, along with critical inventory data, something that even the largest companies still struggle to provide online.

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Another thing Google gets out of this deal: a new sales channel that could well reduce its need to partner with yellow pages publishers to get "feet on the street." Intuit has huge penetration of the small business market and has shown real prowess over the years selling such add-on services as payroll and credit card processing. It even has integrated a vendor rating program (Zipingo.com) and has even previously provided direct access to credit reports (D&B).

Anyone with product buying guides, particularly yellow pages publishers, needs to be monitoring this program closely. Google, through Intuit, is trying to assemble product-level data in a database format, enhanced with real-time inventory data, all tied together with strong discovery tools. Play this scenario out, and it could portend radical and largely unpleasant changes to those of us, both B2B and B2C, who are involved with product information.

More realistically, this is going to take some time to get off the ground. Though details are sketchy, we will assume Intuit will try to charge for this new service, creating a paid participation revenue model that tends to yield uneven and incomplete product catalogs. At the same time, if this new program captures the imagination of small businesses, and Intuit doesn't get too greedy, its implications could be huge. At the very least, Google is once again upping the ante for data publishers, by providing the real-time inventory data that few product guide publishers provide today.

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