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Retailers Get Another Shot at Real Time Product Availability

An online and/or mobile app that can tell shoppers whether a product is in stock has been key goal for the retail industry - one that has yet to be realized. Slowly, though, vendors are moving closer to achieving it, with new functionality introduced by Google this week providing a big boost to these efforts.

It has made several enhancements to its Product Search functionality that delivers this functionality. It is introducing local availability on Google Product Search by partnering with more than 70 retail brands - including national retailers like Best Buy and Williams-Sonoma, as well as software manufacturers like JDA, Epicor and Oracle. It is also rolling out Google Shopper 1.3, a mobile shopping app to help shoppers find the best place to buy a product either online or in a nearby store - it already has more than 2.5 million downloads, according to Google.

Google is also introducing "Popular products" and "aisles" to help people learn about and discover new products.

Offline Sales

The enhancements are a nod at what is e-commerce's still troublesome paradox: while many consumers go online to research or compare a product, they will then head out to the local store to actually buy it. Some 95% of all products are purchased in stores, in fact, according to the US government. Sameer Samat, Director of Product Management at Google, told Search Engine Land that Google began moving in this direction when it noticed online searchers would try to determine whether a product was in stock in a local store, by using such tactics as geographic modifiers with product queries or using store names.

Earlier this year it launched a feature that would show when a product was in stock nearby on a small scale. This week’s enhancement extends these efforts.

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