Google March 29 upgraded its Google Commerce Search service to version 3.0, adding instant search technology and other tools to improve consumers' search experience on retailers' Websites.
Google introduced Google Commerce Search in November 2009 to let online retailers power their online stores with the search engine's technology rather than using their own proprietary search products.
Google hosts Commerce Search on its own servers in the cloud, an alternative to traditional enterprise search providers, such as Endeca, Vivisimo, and Microsoft's Fast unit, all of which offer software that retailers install on their own servers.
Google launched Commerce Search 2.0 in June 2010, with auto-completion for queries to help shoppers find the products they're looking for faster.
Borrowing from its Google Instant predictive-search technology, Commerce Search 3.0 offers search-as-you-type functionality to let e-commerce Websites retrieve product results for shoppers with every keystroke from the search bar.
New-product recommendations also help shoppers make purchase decisions by showing them what other buyers bought. Both the instant search and recommendations should be big savers at a time when online shoppers make frequent searches, especially during the busy holiday season.
Commerce Search 3.0 shows shoppers when a product is also available in a store nearby, right within the search results. This technology borrows from Google's existing Product Search service, which shows users whether items they're searching for are available nearby.
Christine Burke, vice president of international e-commerce for cosmetics supplier L'Occitane, said she believed this tool would help connect customers with their favorite products in one of the retailer's 170 stores in the U.S.
Google launched the original Commerce Search, starting at $50,000 per year, but the company offered an olive branch to businesses with smaller budgets by selling version 2.0, starting at $25,000.
Commerce Search Version 2.0 included a full merchandising dashboard to let retail merchants better control promotions, product-ranking rules and filtering.
In version 3.0, Google is also now allowing retailers to create promotions that appear next to related search queries, designate banner areas and set re-direct rules.
Google counts HealthWarehouse.com, Forever21.com and BabyAge.com, Birkenstock USA, Smart Furniture and Chemist Direct among its Commerce Search customers.