Google relaunches product search: 2011

Google relaunched its product search page on Sept. 14, said Stephanie Tilenius, VP of commerce and payments at the Mountain View, Calif.-based company. It will also soon debut Google+ business pages, she said, although she did not reveal a specific date.

The revamped product search page features “curated sets of products and a new interactive browse space,” said Tilenius, during her keynote address at the 2011 Annual Summit in Boston.

She said Google wants to be a “platform that connects consumers to businesses,” predicting that there will be more innovation in commerce and payments in the next 10 years than there were in the previous two decades.

“There has been a lot of innovation [in e-commerce], but in truth online is only 7% of retail today,” she said. “That’s the size of catalogs. Why isn’t it 25% or 30%?”

Tilenius said businesses should develop their mobile commerce, location-based technology, in-store point-of-sale technology and mobile payments.

“We believe there’s a whole new playing field — a Web-connected, location-aware consumer,” she said. “Twenty years ago, you walked into the store and found the product. Then we gave you the Web to research the products and then go into the store. Now your phone is the computer and soon your phone will be your wallet.”

Google said in May that it would roll out a mobile payment system and national daily deals service later this year. The Google Wallet mobile app would allow consumers to make purchases and redeem offers from their mobile phones and participating merchant locations, as well as to load multiple credit cards and merchant-generated cards onto their mobile devices.

Tilenius praised Tesco, a U.K. home goods retailer, for testing a program in South Korea that enabled consumers to scan quick response (QR) codes and use their smartphones to swipe and order grocers from within a subway car. The products were delivered by the time consumers arrived at home.

“They became the top home goods brand in Korea,” she said. “The connection they built with consumers made consumers only buy at Tesco.”

Tilenius also cited Home Depot’s QR code program as a success. “They have 18 thousand QR codes in their stores,” she said. “If you buy a plant, you can see how to take care of it and water it. If you buy an electronics product, you can see how to use it.”

However, Tilenius said social commerce is still in “its early days” but “retailers are embracing it in a productive way.”

“Most retailers have a Facebook fan page. Soon you’ll have a Google+ page,” she joked. “There is something going on here. Research suggests the ROI isn’t exactly clear, but you should continue to test these things.”

Google launched the Google+ social network in June, but it has yet to allow most brands to use it for marketing purposes.

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