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Google is taking the next step in offering its search technology to businesses with a new product called Google Commerce Search. It’s basically Google search for web retailers.
In the same way that Google is taking on traditional enterprise search companies with the Google Search Appliance (for searching within your company’s files) and Google Site Search (for searching your website), it now wants to replace the older solutions used by web retailers, said Nitin Mangtani, the company’s lead product manager for enterprise search. Retailers just feed Google their catalogs, and the company handles the search experience.
In addition to Google’s general search expertise, Commerce Search includes a number of features that make it particularly well-suited to online retail, Mangtani said, such as spell checking and synonym suggestions. It also allows merchants to customize the experience to their needs, not just with a nice-looking search interface, but also for example by making sure a particular product always shows up at the top of the results. Commerce Search integrates with other Google products, so you can check its effectiveness using Google Analytics and upload your catalog to both Commerce Search and Google Product Search (which highlights products in Google’s standard web search) at the same time.
And since the service is hosted on Google’s servers, retailers don’t have to worry about finding the extra infrastructure to support increased searches during holiday shopping.
Google is already reporting one happy customer — Birkenstock USA, which said Commerce Search led many more site visitors to actually make purchases. The product is aimed at medium-to-large retailers, Mangtani said. (The pricing starts at $50,000 per year, so that puts it out of reach of a small artist or mom-and-pop store trying to establish on online presence.)
One of the areas being explored by newer retail search companies such as Like.com is visual search, where you can look for products that have a similar appearance to one you’ve already found. Asked if Google might incorporate such technology into commerce search, Mangtani said the company would consider it “if we see this as a common requirement from our customers.”
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