For many retailers, simply maintaining a digital presence isn’t enough. The need to provide a platform in which customers can search for specific product lines has never been more imperative than in 2021. It might seem like customers generally know exactly what they’re looking for. But more often than not, their browsing habits aren’t fully aligned with the customer experience provided by many retailers.
Last month, Google Cloud announced the launch of Retail Search, a new solution which promises to provide a “Google-quality” search for retailers on their own site. With search functionality that’s entirely customizable to fit any retailer’s need, it might seem like a welcome add-on. But is it right for your own retail business?
What Is Google Cloud Retail Search?
Similar to Amazon’s A9 algorithm, Retail Search from Google Cloud is a search engine which can crawl through thousands of listings indexed on a retail website. But the difference between Retail Search and other proprietary search functions on standalone sites is an AI-based learning tool which promises improved search results in each query and delivers meaningful insights—returning exact matches, auto-complete, relevant promotions and personalized results, with customers being in complete control of their data.
But it’s not for every business. Smaller sized e-tailers carrying only a handful of listings probably won’t have much use for it while businesses who conduct the majority of their sales through Amazon may find A9 to better suit their needs. But medium to large size businesses may find it a valuable add-on which can drive conversions and help alleviate what is one of the most critical dilemmas in eCommerce: search abandonment.
The Search Abandonment Crisis
If you’ve ever been frustrated by the checkout process on any retailer’s website, then you’re fully aware of just why 69.8 percent of all potential eCommerce purchases result in cart abandonment. That sense of frustration isn’t very different from search abandonment. Inaccurate and irrelevant search results can have an excessively negative impact, whether it’s a retail website or a traditional search engine. The result has been estimated to be a loss of over $333 Billion per year in the US, according to a poll conducted by the Harris Group in 2021. In fact, the problem of search abandonment is so great that the same poll estimated some 94 percent of global consumers received irrelevant results on a retailer’s website in the past six months.
"Providing quality search results is an industry-wide challenge," stated Srikanth Belwadi, Google Cloud’s Group Product Manager in a press release.. "While traditional search platforms are keyword-based, Google's semantic understanding of query intent enables retailers to dramatically improve experiences for customers with learning-based search. Retail Search helps get shoppers what they want faster, leading to higher conversion rates and happier consumers."
Retail Search as an Alternative to A9
Even despite Amazon’s dominance in eCommerce, many brands are also maintaining their own direct to consumer sales presence, which is estimated to reach $129.3 Billion in the US by the end of 2021. That’s merely a fraction of Amazon’s revenue. But it’s enough to make them stand up and take notice.
Multichannel eCommerce is here to stay. And whether a brand is looking to increase conversions or simply maintain high visibility, it’s an increasingly necessary factor. Search queries may lead to the discovery of new brands but relevant products aren’t always so easily discovered. Retail Search can be an alternative for off-Amazon brands. It may not be right for every brand, but it’s a solution that has the potential to develop into something more than simply what it seems.
Just like Google did.
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