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Google unleashes search power on shopping sites

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A tool that applies Google’s search power to individual retail websites is now available in Australia.

Google Commerce Search lets online shoppers browse, navigate and search in the way they’re used to with Google web search, with familiar features like spelling correction and search suggestions.

Launched in late 2009 to customers in the United States and the United Kingdom, Google Commerce Search is the latest offering from the Internet giant’s enterprise search wing. Its basic features include:

  • Browsing and navigation modes.
  • Filters for attributes such as price, category and brand.
  • User-friendly spelling and synonym options.
  • The ability to run promotions for particular products.
  • Smooth scalability so seasonal changes in query volume won’t hurt the search experience.

The opportunity to tap into the Google magic comes with a price, of course; the cost of Commerce Search starts at $25,000 a year.

Will Easton, head of retail, technology and consumer products at Google America, said retail-related searches on google.com.au are up 40% over the past year.

“But every time a shopper fails to find what they’re looking for when they reach a retailer’s website, that’s a missed sale. … Online retailers in the U.S. and U.K. who’ve put Commerce Search on their sites are reporting increased conversions, sales, time on site, and average order size.”

A retailer operates Commerce Search with a dashboard that controls the ranking of search results, filtering options and promotions. The retailer also can specify what attribute groups — such as category, brand and price — are shown to the user and in what order they appear.

Naturally, anything with the Google name comes packaged with extensive analytics. Google says retailers who excel at understanding and responding to Commerce Search’s metrics can improve conversion rates by up to 24%.

Martin Newman, a global e-commerce consultant who spoke at the recent Online Retailer Conference in Sydney, said there is a significant opportunity for retailers to improve their on-site search.

“I’ve seen that effective on-site search can generate as much as 40% of sales,” Newman said.”When executed well, search can be a great driver of sales. When it’s not, it’s a driver of abandonment.”

Google Commerce Search demo

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