Google's tentacles extend everywhere online, including e-commerce--thanks to Google Checkout, for one. But now it's got a new system, Commerce Search, which companies can use to inject smart search skills into their online stores. Just in time for the holiday season.
In its introduction to the new system, Google explains exactly why it's getting into this business: E-shopping continues to boom, but many sites haven't optimized their e-shopping experience yet. And with an 8-second limit on the average visitor deciding to stay or shop elsewhere, there's lots of potential customers being missed.
Which is where, of course, Google enters the fray. Its main goal is to add some of Google's goodness to commercial sites, enabling faster product location, smart searching, product filtering, and so on. Its technology, borrowed and enhanced from the search site and other Google systems, would seem ideal for small- to medium-sized e-businesses who don't want the difficulty and expense of designing their own e-shops to be that sophisticated. Check out the Google promo clip below.
It all seems pretty neat. The promotional system provides a clever options for up-selling particular items in your stock, and the cleverness of Google's search is undoubtedly a boost over some of the clunky and inefficient UIs we've all encountered in e-shops. The cloud hosting is brilliant for smaller businesses too--if one product hits sudden popularity, it's simply going to tax Google's servers more, rather than crashing your own. Google's analytics will also let you do much smarter business management, and if you're really on the ball, it could result in more optimized sales of products.
There's just one down side: Google design. Put one way: It's spartan. Put another: It's boring, tedious, dry, dull, and unexciting--for a search engine, that's fine, but for a store trying to lure you into buying, it's a potential weakness. There's not much indication here that by adopting Google's commerce engine you can radically adjust the system to layer your own super-unique look and feel on top of your own e-store, which means every shop that uses the system is going to be pretty similar. In other words, the benefits of using Google for your e-shop come at the cost of looking a little like every other e-retailer using it.