There are product gaps on some of the biggest shopping engines online. What and where are they? We take close look at some of the biggest ones on Google and Amazon.

Google:

Google recently made a change to its image search engine without posting an official statement.  They got rid of the “Safe Search” filter.  Basically, Google is now limiting the ways you can filter explicit images when searching the web.

Prior to the change, Google had three options.  You had the option to set the filter setting to Strict, Moderate and No Filtering.

The old Google filters

Strict – filters sexually explicit videos and images from Google Search results pages, as well as results that might link to explicit content

Moderate – excludes sexually explicit video and images from Google Search results pages but does not filter results that might link to explicit content.

No Filtering– turns off the SafeSearch filtering completely.

 

 

The new Google filters:  

Filter Explicit Results – filters sexually explicit videos and images from Google Search results pages, as well as results that might link to explicit content

Leaving the Filter Explicit Results page will still filter some images with explicit content but still provides Search results similar to the old ‘Moderate’ filter option.

 

 

Users will still be able to find explicit content through the Google search engine; however they will need to use much more specific search terms to find exactly what they want.

A Google representative wrote:

“We are not censoring any adult content, and want to show users exactly what they are looking for — but we aim not to show sexually-explicit results unless a user is specifically searching for them. We use algorithms to select the most relevant results for a given query. If you’re looking for adult content, you can find it without having to change the default setting — you just may need to be more explicit in your query if your search terms are potentially ambiguous. The image search settings now work the same way as in Web search.”

So what does this mean for Ecommerce Merchants? 

 

At first glance, this change wouldn’t appear to affect any ecommerce merchants who post listings on Google Shopping.  But it does in fact affect some merchants, specifically ones selling adult products.

This limits the options for merchants who sell adult products or any products that include explicit words for their product descriptions. Searching on Google Shopping for adult products such as sex toys bring up zero results.  Conducting the same search with the filter unchecked shows some results, however they are very moderate results.

It will be interesting to see how these ecommerce merchants and other comparison shopping engines will react to this new change.  Adult products are a huge industry and there’s certainly money to be made for those willing to host some explicit listings.

Google made the decision to make firearms and other weapons a prohibited category last summer so the choice to ban adult products can be seen as the company’s next step towards creating a family-friendly Google Shopping experience.

 

Amazon Restricted Categories – Apparel and More

 

Currently product categories requiring approval on Amazon include:

  • Automotive Parts / Motorcycle & ATV
  • Clothing, Accessories & Luggage
  • Collectible Books
  • Entertainment Collectibles
  • Industrial & Scientific
  • Jewelry
  • Sexual Wellness
  • Shoes
  • Sports Collectibles
  • Textbook Rentals*
  • Toys & Games (holiday approval only)
  • Watches
  • Wine

Amazon is making a significant investment in fashion by recently signing hundreds contemporary brands and designers to give their entrance into the fashion world a boost.

From there, they look for profitable product lines from distributors that they can sell direct, a practice seen across various product categories and merchants.

Smaller apparel ecommerce merchants will have a hard time competing with the big brands already listing on Amazon and especially Amazon’s own apparel listings.

This might be an interesting opportunity for other shopping portals / comparison shopping engines to create a niche that smaller apparel merchants could fill.

What other product gaps have you seen? Who’s filling them? Please post your thoughts in the comments.

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