Google Commerce Search starts at $50,000 a year and will improve speed and accuracy, the company said. “We fundamentally believe there is a big gap,” said Google product manager Nitin Mangtani. “Beyond the top sites, the majority of retail sites lack good search technology. Searches take a lot of time, and it’s difficult to find the right product.”

This story first appeared in the November 5, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Better search will improve the online experience and the top and bottom lines, he said.

Birkenstock has already implemented the service, and about 20 other retailers have been testing it.

“Bounce rates have decreased and we’re seeing more return customers,” stated Jeff Kilmer, Birkenstock USA chief operating officer. “The search results are ultrafast, so customers more easily find the specific products they’re looking for. We’ve seen dramatic conversion improvement since implementation. It has also meant a better shopping experience for our customers, which is critical given the holiday season rush.”

Google has long offered another service, Google Site Search, which starts at $100 a year and can be used by any type of site, not only large retailers. That product is based on the data Google gets by crawling and indexing the Web. Google Commerce Search is based on product data catalogues and other information about categories and subcategories that retailers provide directly to Google.

The majority of retailers already submit their product data catalogues to Google because it boosts their search-engine rankings.

One advantage of using any type of Google search is that misspellings of brands and other words are instantly corrected. Because Google Commerce Search is completely hosted, retailers do not need to deploy any type of hardware or software to use it, and support is 24/7. Retailers can also tune the results to show particular products or brands at the top or bottom of searches.

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