Google's Newest Feature is Blurring The Lines Between Brick-and-Mortar and eCommerce

May 15, 2014

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The worlds of physical and online retail have been blending together over the last few years thanks to new tech and creative customer experiences. Smartphones and tablets have become the most effective shopping accessories for consumers whether they're shopping online or making their way through the mall. Many brands have embraced the importance of a mobile experience in-stores and have given brick-and-mortar models a new breathe of life.

Retailers who have decided to take advantage of new technologies like location-based notifications, mobile payments, and even real-time inventory listings, have new opportunities to look forward to. Google's mobile assistant, Google Now, has released a new feature that will bring intelligent mobile integration into your real-time shopping experiences.

The new Google Now feature utilizes location data and search history to notify users when they are physically near a store that might have a recently searched-for item for sale. For example, If you've been searching for a particular pair of shoes and happen to be around a store that carries that item, you'll get a real-time notification.

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The Google notification would include an image and pricing information of the product. Real-time inventory is not yet available.

With Google's almost infinite database of user information, preferences, and behavioral history, it's quite easy for them to combine their location tracking and predictive analytics to improve the shopping experience. Considering Google prefers to keep users up-to-date on local results, many small shops that have adopted eCommerce models and made their inventory available online have garnered the majority of local search traffic.

As a frequent Google Now user, I already receive notifications about local events, restaurants, public transit schedules, movie listings, and even tourist highlights based on my physical location. Retail is a logical next step in completing the predictive model.

For now, the new feature is only available for Android users, but iOS users should be expecting an update in the near future.

For years, retail giants like Amazon, eBay, and now Google, have been able to tap into predictive marketing technologies that were once only available to the largest companies. In today's digital age, the latest software and hardware advances have leveled the playing field for small and medium sized brands. Companies can now analyze and utilized customer data just like Amazon, and deliver an even more personalized experience on a more intimate level.

This is a great opportunity for retailers to move towards a model that embraces both worlds of brick-and-mortar and eCommerce. Consumers have become such savvy shoppers that the absence of mobile and online integration with in-store experiences have become a deal breaker in many cases. For retailers to truly delight the modern consumer, they must provide a shopping experience that can blend the world of online shopping carts and the world of shopping aisles.

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