Last week, Google Shopping added exciting new features to its product listing ads. For the first time, users can determine which products they’re shopping for are physically available for purchase at local retail stores.
Google Shopping has traditionally allowed consumers to research and compare products, and then connect with retailers online to make a purchase. These new features add a local aspect by showing nearby availability for the products consumers are searching for. If a product is available in the searcher’s area, the user may see a “local storefront” when they click a product ad. This lets the user know if the nearby store has the particular product in stock – and any similar products in stock – before they actually visit in-person. A searcher can also find additional details about the local store including business hours, location and pricing.
On Google’s blog, Google Shopping senior product manager Paul Bankhead discussed how these new features benefit local retailers:
“Both local availability for Product Listing Ads and the local storefront are based on a local product feed managed through Google Merchant Center, which allows retailers to provide users with up-to-date, item-level price and availability information for each physical store…These local features help retailers leverage the scale of Google Shopping to market items sold in their physical stores.”
These new local features, available for both mobile and desktop, are rolling out to a limited number of U.S. national retailers, including Sephora and REI, with plans to expand availability in the future.
I think Google’s focus on how to drive online searches to make in-store purchases is a step in the right direction. Hopefully in short order, we’ll see this functionality roll out to more local retailers including small and medium-sized businesses. This could help SMB retailers compete with larger stores on a much broader scale.