According to the Wall Street Journal, Google, later this year, will launch an improved version of its shopping service, Google Product Search. New features will make online product comparison easier for goods like clothing and shoes and move Google closer towards directly competing with the companies that currently dominate the online shopping world, namely Amazon and Ebay.
Google’s shopping venture will likely make use of existing visual search technology which sorts and matches product based on images. The technology identifies similarities in goods based on photos and will sort those items based on qualities such as color and style. Google acquired the technology from the comparison shopping website Like.com, which was purchased by the search engine giant earlier this year.
Google began making inroads in online shopping back in 2007 when it relaunched its shopping search site Froogle as, simply, Google Product Search. Google has recently upgraded the site to allow for customer reviews of products, ratings and rankings, and the ability to check availability of items. During the third quarter of this year, Google Product Search was used 226 million times – more than double the number of searches the site handled over the same period a year prior, but still far behind sites Amazon and Ebay in popularity.
It will be interesting to see how Google decides to employ Like.com’s visual search feature. As the WSJ points out, it’s been difficult for sites like Amazon and Ebay to promote goods such as clothing that are susceptible to fashion trends that aren’t easily categorized objectively in an online format. The ability to sort products based on visual attributes may help Google overcome that obstacle and give the company an advantage in certain sectors of the online marketplace. It’s not clear if the new shopping features will be unveiled in time for the holiday shopping season.