Retailers often have difficulty in getting their online and real world markets to intermingle, but a feature in beta testing by Google may be about to provide UK retailers with a helping hand. Google Retail announced recently that ‘Nearby Stores’ and ‘Local Availability’, two initiatives that direct customers to goods and services offline, are being launched in several countries across the globe.
‘Local Availability’, being launched for UK users, taps into store information for search engine results. Google has hooked up with major retailers, including Argos, Debenhams and HMV, to provide product availability information within the search engine results. The feature allows users to check on the availability of the desired product before heading off to the store.
‘Nearby Stores’ was launched last year in the US and UK, and will now be made available to users in several European countries and in Australia. The feature bridges the gap between on- and offline shopping, prompting users to call to check the availability of a product offline for a quick pick-up.
Both features encourage local shopping, in line with Google’s recent concentration on local, more specific results. The increased concentration on the geographic location of online businesses has led to many site owners working local keywords into their search engine optimisation plans, and establishing locality has become one of the standard SEO jobs for many sites.
While most sites will be unable to take advantage of the Local Availability feature, Nearby Stores should be taken into consideration for retail search engine optimisation plans.