Google on Thursday rolled out the second iteration of its search solution for retailers. Google Commerce Search 2.0 overhauls the original product that aims to help e-commerce players in the United States and United Kingdom prepare for the summer shopping season.
Nitin Mangtani, a senior product manager at Google, promised a better experience for online shoppers and more control with "immediate ROI" for retailers. The pricing model for Google Commerce Search starts at $25,000 a year.
One of the questions that comes to analyst Greg Sterling's mind is how much of a revenue opportunity Google Commerce Search really is. Granted, e-commerce is a large market. But can Google win new customers and recognize any meaningful revenue with its custom retail search solution?
"It remains to be seen," said Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence. "Google said they have 30,000 enterprise search customers. They wouldn't break out the retail numbers. They've dropped the price, which means they haven't gotten a lot of adoption and they are trying to drive more."
Remaking Commerce Search
Google rolled out the original version of Commerce Search a little more than six months ago without much fanfare. Google bills it as an enterprise-grade web-site search solution. It's hosted in Google's cloud. The second iteration of the product makes several improvements Google hopes will drive greater adoption.
One of the improvements is more merchant customization in the form of a merchandising dashboard. The dashboard gives merchants more control over promotions, ranking rules and filtering with no custom coding needed. Google also rolled out new retailer controls, like time-based promotions, a navigation bar with filters, and product ranking rules, that set the stage for on-the-fly seasonal optimizations.
"This is a strong product. Google is trying to be a little more aggressive with these improvements," Sterling said. "I don't know how it stacks up against the enterprise software competition. But Google claims it's the only major company offering this cloud-based solution, and it's unique in that regard."
Improving Shopping Experiences
Realizing that the back end is just half the battle, Google Commerce Search 2.0 also works to create a better shopping experience for consumers. Features like query autocompletion let retailers offer common queries to shoppers in real time while they are typing. Google said the product is also faster and more relevant than the first version in the wake of search quality improvements.
"Because it's hosted in the Google cloud, search results are returned to shoppers in less than a second," Mangtani said. "We've also added spelling and stemming dictionaries and new custom synonym options to make shopping on a retail site as easy and accurate as searching on Google.com."
Google noticed some shoppers tend to rely on the search bar on retailer web sites when they are looking to make a purchase, but the company acknowledges that some shoppers still prefer to navigate through various categories to discover new products. That's why Google Commerce Search 2.0 lets visitors shop both ways.