Google’s Pointy offering devices to help Irish retailers get online

10 Mar 2021

Pointy co-founders Mark Cummins and Charles Bibby. Image: Pointy

The company, which was acquired by Google last year, is providing hardware for retailers to list their inventories online and attract shoppers.

Google-owned Pointy is offering free devices to Irish retailers to help them list their inventories online.

The Dublin start-up, which was acquired by the tech giant in January 2020, is providing its hardware for retailers to take stock of their products and quickly list them in Google search results.

Its box connects with a retailer’s barcode scanner and automatically logs a product and its details for listing on Google. This will make other info like contact details and opening hours available in results as well.

The start-up was founded as a way to help bricks-and-mortar stores be more efficient in marketing their goods online to attract people into their physical stores, especially with the threat of e-commerce looming.

During the pandemic, with shops largely closed, small independent retailers are now relying on e-commerce too. For many, it may be their first foray into online selling.

By displaying products in Google search results, retailers can gain greater visibility among shoppers who are browsing at home. According to Google, there has been a 100pc increase in searches for products ‘available near me’ over the last year, suggesting that people are still keen to buy locally even though shops are closed.

“Being visible online has become critical for brick-and-mortar retailers throughout the pandemic, but that can be a challenge for smaller retailers who may not have the resources to build and maintain an e-commerce platform,” general manager Mark Cummins said.

Pointy was founded in 2014 by Cummins and Charles Bibby and had raised $19m from investors before Google came knocking in early 2020, just before the pandemic struck. The deal was Cummins’ second time selling a company to Google, having sold search start-up Plink to the tech giant in 2010.

Lorraine Higgins, secretary general of Digital Business Ireland, said it is essential that Irish businesses connect their physical stores with online commerce.

“Helping online shoppers find the products they need in their area is a new way for businesses to connect with their customers and boost their visibility in an ever-competitive digital marketplace,” she said.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin