Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Google to personalize metashopping

In an interview with CNet, Googler Sameer Samat talks about Google's future plans for shopping search, including personalization and recommendations.

An excerpt:
One thing Google doesn't do very well is provide the shopping-as-adventure experience ... You might go to the mall with a specific product in mind, but a well-designed mall ... forces you to discover -- and hopefully purchase -- other products that you might not have even known you wanted: the marketing types like to call this "serendipity." Google wants to be known as a destination for that kind of experience, said Sameer Samat, director of product management.

After years of trying and failing to reach that goal, Google plans to give it another go over the coming months. Don't expect Google to turn into a full-blown online retailer among the likes of Amazon.com or Buy.com just yet. But the combination of personalized features for product search pages and what Samat thinks is "the largest database of products that has been created" could entice people to actually shop on Google.

Google's current approach works best for those who are on a mission when they shop, shoppers who already know what they want and are just looking for additional information before sealing the deal ... [But] there are millions of other people who treat shopping as leisure, rather than a simple transaction. These are people who ... prefer browsing to targeted shopping, knowing that every now and then they'll discover something totally unique or completely unexpected.

Google wants to serve more of those people ... [by making] recommendations based on that list of products and lists submitted by others to help you discover new products: sort of like Amazon's recommendations page meets Pandora's radio stations meets Google.

"Shopping is not just about search, it's not just about intent, it's about discovery," Samat said. "If we can do it, and do it well, we will have built something that's really amazing; it should be the most comprehensive experience for shopping you could ever find."
On a related note, Google is pushing aggressively to get retailers to use Google's commerce search engine to run their search experience. Each deal Google signs gives them more detailed information about another retailing vertical. It's all about the data.

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