Google digitizes retailers' catalogs with iPad app

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Google has launched an app for Apple's iPad tablet that enables retailers to digitize print catalogs and embed rich-media content, such as videos. Catalogs from retailers including Macy's, Pottery Barn and Sephora are available through the Google Catalogs app at launch.

The app also uses the iPad's location-based services to help consumers viewing a product locate a nearby store. It also directs consumers to the retailer's e-commerce site to purchase a product.

Google chose to aggregate retailers' catalogs into app form because “most online catalogs lacked that ‘browsy' shopping experience consumers love,” said Sierra Lovelace, spokesperson for Google.

Consumers can also compile a customized catalog, called a “Collage,” through the app by selecting pages or products from retailers' catalogs. They can also email a Collage or specific products to friends and set notifications for when a retailer's new catalog is available.

Lovelace said retailers will be able to measure total traffic received from the app. She noted that in the future Google will supply retailers “with more detailed reports” that may include product- and page-level metrics. She declined to comment on whether Google will roll out online or mobile versions of Google Catalogs.

The app is only available for the iPad, but Lovelace said an Android tablet version will arrive “in the coming months.”

Catalog categories include women's fashion and apparel, jewelry, beauty, home, men's fashion and apparel, kids and baby and gifts.

In 2009, Google shut down its Catalog Search product, which allowed consumers to search retailers' catalogs online.

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