New Google Shopping Feature Emphasizes Buying Locally: What This Means For You

Leah Bourne

google shopping local New Google Shopping Feature Emphasizes Buying Locally: What This Means For YouGoogle announced Monday that will begin to roll out some new features on Google Shopping that emphasize local shopping—and these updates will potentially have a big impact on the way we all shop.

The new feature will work like this: When you search for an item on Google, an ad with a picture, or a PLA (product listing ad), will pop up for a local retailer. Once you’ve clicked, you’ll be directed to a local storefront on Google where you can browse the store’s inventory before actually heading there in person. That means no more running to a store in search of shoes in your size only to discover they’re out of stock. You’ll also get information such as directions, store hours, and similar items that are in stock.

Previously, this space in Google search focused on mega-retailers with no location and inventory component. Now, real-time data overseen by the Google Merchant Center allows participating retailers to provide timely information for each of their stores, so inventory listings stay up to date.

Here’s what this means for you: When you’re on the hunt for, say, that perfect Alexander Wang bag, Google will now lead you in two shopping directions. The first—which we’re all used to—is to the online retailers that might be selling it, like Neiman Marcus. The second leads you to brick-and-mortar stores near you that have it in stock.

“These local features help retailers leverage the scale of Google Shopping to market items sold in their physical stores,” Google Shopping Senior Project Manager Paul Bankhead said. “They’re currently available to a limited set of US retailers, and we look forward to making them more widely available in the coming months.”

It isn’t surprising that Google is investing heavily into its Shopping component, and particularly the fashion space. In terms of shopping search volume on Google, apparel is the fastest-growing category. This is also a timely update by the search giant considering retailers are keen to drive foot traffic into physical stores during the upcoming holiday shopping season.

This roll-out also seems to be a small piece of Google’s overall local strategy. In September Google launched a same-day delivery service in the Bay Area, which delivers online purchases to customers’ homes just hours after they click the purchase button from stores like Walgreens and Target.