Google Launches Retail Search Product

Google Commerce Search is a cloud service with various customization tools for retailers.

Google on Thursday released Version 2.0 of a service that it hopes the nation’s top 1,000 retailers will use to power the searches on their e-commerce sites. Unlike most competing search products, Google Commerce Search is a cloud service, so it can be set up and customized relatively quickly, and performance will not vary even during unusually busy times such as holidays and sales, according to the company.

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“A good search technology dramatically improves conversion rates because users find what they are looking for,” said Google senior product manager Nitin Mangtani. For example, retailer DiscountOfficeItems.com experienced a 6 percent increase in sales revenue a few weeks after adopting the first version, which made its debut in November.

Version 2.0 comes with a dashboard through which retailers can easily and quickly customize searching and browsing on their sites. For example, merchants can set up menus with categories of their choice, such as denim, tops, brands, dresses under $99 or pencil skirts. If retailers want to promote certain types of items — latest arrivals, sale or private label, for example — they can arrange to have those show up first on search results. They can also create an endless number of special promotions that automatically start and end on dates of their choosing. No coding is required.

Another new feature is auto-completion, meaning the site will suggest popular or relevant searches when the customer types in just a letter or two.

The new version, which will automatically be available to existing and new customers, starts at $25,000 a year for 50,000 items and up to 3 million queries. The previous price started at $50,000 a year for 100,000 items and 10 million queries.

The service requires no hardware or software installation, and can be configured and customized in two to three weeks, rather than the more typical five to nine months, according to Mangtani.

Google also has a retail search product for small business owners that starts at $100 a year and takes less than a day to set up. Altogether, Google has 30,000 customers for its various enterprise search products, including Google Commerce Search. Customers include Birkenstock and U.K. retailer ChemistDirect. In addition, more than 2 million businesses now use Google apps, a free cloud service, which includes gmail, calendar and a document suite, Mangtani added.

A good e-commerce site strongly influences offline sales, said Mangtani. “Even though a large portion of retail sales take place in physical stores, it’s heavily influenced by the shopper experience on online sites,” he said.