I had been waiting for Google to play a part in the run-up to the Christmas shopping period, and today that day came, but not quite in the way I expected. Running an internet advertising agency I was shocked to hear that rather than helping online businesses make more money this crimbo the help has been redirected towards high street stores. Shoppers will be able to view real-time high street store stock inventory online. The thinking behind this is based on the premise that people search more online than buy online. In fact, in the US, 95% of products are still bought in store. It would seem that people check reviews, look at pictures and read technical data online, but then head out and buy from a store. This completely contradicts the endless predictions earlier in the decade that said we would all be shopping online within a few years and the high street would die a cold death.

Figure 1: The new Google high street product inventory layout.

Google Product Search

Google say they want to bridge the gap between online and offline shopping in light of consumer behaviour.

“The line between online and offline shopping is starting to blur: According to a study by Forrester while 93 percent of retail purchases today happen in a store, more than 46 percent of those in-store purchases are influenced by online research. Not to mention that shoppers can access the web from anywhere at anytime—including from their mobile phones when browsing the aisles of a local store”.

This is all great, but wouldn’t it be better to have an online store inventory to encourage people to buy online there and then. That way, even when using a mobile in the aisle of a shop, a user could order, skip the lengthy queues and get home early for dinner. All said and done this new addition to Google search is very useful, but one that might encourage further bricks and mortar shopping rather than the online action we internet advertising agency owners wish for.

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