Google just announced a new attribute and requested merchants send larger images via a post on the Google Base blog.
The new attribute, “online only,” allows retailers to indicate which products are available exclusively on their website versus other channels such as brick and mortar or catalogueueue. The coordination of online and offline activity is a major focus for retailers, so it is makes sense that Google would want to start collecting this information. It could suggest future ties in to Google Local/Maps, allowing customers to quickly find the closest brick and mortar location where an item is available. If you want to ensure your store locations appear in Google Local, you can enter details here.
The request for larger images is one we’ve heard from many other shopping engines over the last year or so. The primary focus of this is likely to help create a better user experience for consumers, encouraging them to return. It may indicate that plans for an image hover feature or other preview function are in the works. From a merchant’s perspective, there is no downside to providing the largest images possible. A high quality image experience on a retailer’s site can help improve conversion, and a similar implementation on a comparison shopping engine should improve the traffic quality delivered to retail sites.