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E-commerce may not be as sexy as social networking and online content, but millions upon millions of people shop online, spending billions of dollars every year.
For brands and retailers hoping to get a piece of the action, technology is everything. That's why eBay is spending upwards of $2bn buying GSI Commerce.
While it's easy to overlook, Google is a player in this space too, and yesterday it announced a major refresh of its Commerce Search product, dubbed Commerce Search 3.0, which is a search solution "designed specifically with online and multi-channel retailers in mind."
New features Google is rolling out in Commerce Search 3.0 include "Search as You Type" functionality, product recommendations and promotions.
Google has also added Live Local Inventory. With this, "Multi-channel retailers can facilitate cross-channel product discovery with Local Inventory, which lists local product availability in search results. This cross-channel coordination provides users with a streamlined shopping experience, which can increase conversion, customer loyalty, and sales."
Google's pitch for Commerce Search is that it's a hosted, software-as-a-service solution. Retailers use Google Merchant Center to upload their products, can customize the look and feel of their search using an XML-based API, and receive Google Analytics integration.
According to Google, one major multichannel retailer, General Nutrition Company, was able to integrate Commerce Search 3.0 on its mobile website "in less than a week."
According to Google, other notable customers signing up for Commerce Search 3.0 include Forever21 and L’Occitane.
With pricing starting at $25,000/year, Commerce Search may be out of the reach of smaller retailers, but as eBay's big acquisition of GSI Commerce reminds us, providing technology solutions to large retail brands and multi-channel retailers is still a big business.
From this perspective, perhaps Google should be focusing more on products like Commerce Search and less on consumer-oriented, non-search services.