This could be interesting.
Google has this week announced that it has acquired Dublin-based retail hardware provider Pointy, which produces small devices that retailers can plug into their barcode scanner and automatically upload their inventory direct to the web for advertising purposes.
In addition to these devices, Pointy also has an app which can connect with digital POS systems, facilitating the same purpose.
Once your inventory details are uploaded, Pointy can then provide digital product overviews, showcase items within your Google listings and facilitate simplified connection to other online display ad and search types - no data entry required.
As noted in its own announcement of the deal, Pointy has been working with Google for some time, and the acquisition will enable the company to expand on a much broader scale.
"Over the past several years we’ve developed a very close partnership with Google. It became clear that we shared the same vision of how technology can improve local retail businesses. So today is a natural next step in our journey. By joining forces, we will be able to help people discover local stores and products on a much larger scale. We think this is the right way to accomplish what we set out to do - to bring the world’s retailers online and give them the tools they need to thrive."
Google has been experimenting with similar beacon technology for some time (as has Facebook), but those devices don't quite serve the same purpose, in facilitating simplified inventory upload and connection to the web.
According to pointy, it's already been able to "serve local retailers in almost every city and every town in the US and throughout Ireland", and has established an easy, ready to use system for better connecting offline and online listings.
Combined with Google's scale, you can imagine it will prove to be a popular option, helping more SMBs get their products online, and tap into the rising use of the web for product discovery.
That'll also provide Google with a heap more product listings, expanding its shopping options. Google announced a redesign of Google Shopping in October last year, boosting its eCommerce potential, and the expansion of its product listings will help to give the platform a significant edge over others in the same space, including Pinterest.
If Google can provide all the shopping info you need, including purchase options, all direct from search - now with an even broader range of content from SMBs - that could pose a significant challenge for others looking to make a bigger eCommerce push.