Google has been telling anyone that will listen just how bullish it is on local/mobile commerce, and it has backed the bombast with a series of initiatives (Places, Place Search and Tags just to name three recent, relevant examples) to aggressively court SMBs and better connect with consumers at a neighborhood level. The latest is the formal rollout of Google Product Search, which will provide searchable and categorizable online product inventory for local branches of more than 70 retailers.
Product Search extends what began in March with the beta trial of Blue Dots, which charted product stock at selected retailers. Now several additional sellers are joining the program, including Best Buy and Williams-Sonoma.
Google joins a host of companies trying to connect online product search to offline purchase, including Milo, Krillion, ShopLocal and NearbyNow. But the Mountain View, California, search giant isn’t worried about the numbers game. Its focus lies on two other numbers:
1) The U.S. online-research-to-offline-buying market is estimated at $917 billion in 2010, swelling to $1 trillion next year. It accounts for the lion’s share of spending, with online e-commerce spending commanding only 7 percent of total U.S. sales.
2) Of the 93 percent of retail purchases occurring in-store, almost half are driven by online research.