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Google Offers up its Search Engine Tech to Retailers

Google Retail Search from Google Cloud rolls out

The search engine — such a commonplace tool in today’s world and yet so difficult to execute well, as any ecommerce operator (actually, the operator of any website) can attest. There’s no doubt that Google is the industry standard in search, and now the tech giant is making its search engine tech available to retailers with the new Retail Search solution powered by Google Cloud.

“While we’ve come a long way from the days when search was largely based on keywords and Boolean rules, shoppers still struggle to find what they’re looking for,” said Srikanth Belwadi, Group Product Manager at Google Cloud in a blog post announcing the new tool. “Traditional search technologies don’t work in the modern age of online retail, where tens or even hundreds of thousands of items are available on a single ecommerce site. Now, through the power of Retail Search, when a shopper searches for a ‘long black dress with short sleeves and comfortable fit’ on an ecommerce site, they should immediately get results for precisely that — rather than refining their search multiple times, or worse, giving up their shopping journey.”

Some 94% of U.S. consumers have abandoned a shopping session because they received irrelevant search results, according to a 2021 survey conducted by The Harris Poll and Google Cloud — a phenomenon known as “search abandonment.” Indeed, the survey estimates that retailers miss out on $300 billion each year due to search abandonment in the U.S. alone.

Early adopters of Google Cloud’s Retail Search include Lowe’s, Fnac Darty in France and Casas Pernambucanas in Brazil, and now the solution has been rolled out for general availability as part of Google Cloud’s suite of product discovery solutions for retail. The fully managed service is customizable to each client, enabling organizations to craft shopper-focused search experiences with:

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  • Advanced query understanding to produce better results from even the broadest queries, including non-product searches; 
  • Semantic search to effectively match product attributes with website content for fast, relevant product discovery; 
  • Optimized results that leverage user interaction and ranking models to meet specific business goals; and
  • State-of-the-art security and privacy practices that ensure retailer data is isolated with strong access controls and is only used to deliver relevant search results on their own properties.

“With limited customer signals and no historical data, descriptive long-tail searches are some of the most challenging queries to understand,” said Neelima Sharma, SVP of Technology, Ecommerce, Marketing and Merchandising at Lowe’s in a statement. “We have been partnering with Google Cloud to give our customers relevant results for long-tail searches and have seen an increase in click-through and search conversion and a drop in our ‘no results found’ rate since we launched.”

In the competitive sector of cloud computing, one of Google’s biggest differentiators is its broader tech, developed over decades. As Google Cloud’s VP of Retail and Consumer, Carrie Tharp, told Retail TouchPoints, Google “cherry-picks” the best of its tech across ads, search, Maps, Shopping and more and then uses the Cloud as the backbone to help retailers “innovate on new experiences.” Drawing on its Maps tech, the company also recently launched a Last Mile Fleet Solution to help organizations optimize delivery performance.

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