Actually, it’s more complex than that. Read on.

Since last October, Google has allowed mobile users to find out if a product is available nearby — even if the retailer only offered the product in the store and not online.

Now, the company is extending that capability to desktop and laptop users. Previously, that group of users could only see local availability if the retailer also offered the product online as well as in the physical store.

Google has not yet made a formal announcement of this “store-exclusive” capability moving to computers, a spokesperson told VentureBeat. The expansion was referenced in an interview with senior vice president of ads and commerce Sridhar Ramaswamy, published today by Bloomberg.

That story, however, mistakenly indicated that local product availability in general was now being extended to desktops, when in fact it’s been there since last fall — but only if the retailer also sold the product online.

“Based on positive feedback,” a Google spokesperson told us, “we’re now enabling retailers to show store-exclusive products on desktop — a feature so far limited to mobile. In addition, we’re also expanding local inventory ads internationally, beginning with UK, France, Germany, Japan and Australia.”

In its October announcement, Google gave the following example:

For example, someone searching for a new fragrance may see an ad letting her know it’s available at a nearby store. After clicking the ad, she’ll see product and availability information for that fragrance, along with similar items in stock at the store.

Now, she can find out if that perfume is available locally on either a mobile device and on a computer, even if it’s only available in the store.

This move comes as Google faces new competition from Amazon. Last week, there were reports that Amazon is ramping up it own online ad network — initially for its own properties, and later possibly challenging Google and Microsoft for the vast landscape of sites and devices.


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