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Google eyes e-commerce market

08 November 2010 - 12:44 by Simon Crisp

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Search giant Google is set to expand its presence in the e-commerce market, not just as an ad facilitator, but also as a retailer with the impending overhaul that will see its product search feature become much more advanced than before.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Google is prepping the product search for a re-launch which will see price comparison for fashion products significantly enhanced, along with implementing a few strategies that could eventually allow it to rival the world's largest online retailers such as Amazon and eBay.

Google is set to rely on augmented reality technology to make safe shopping online even more involving. Users will be able to snap pictures of products using their smartphones and then Google will use visual search technology to find where they can buy such products online.

Visual search will not only be able to distinguish different types of products from one another but will also limit results to items of the same colour and style. It has been able to develop this technology after acquiring in early 2010.

Google has been forging a place in the e-commerce market for three years after its Froogle online product search was rebranded. In the intervening time it has augmented the service to allow consumers to rate products and see where they are in stock.

226 million individual searches were made using this tool during the third quarter of 2010, which is twice as many as registered in the previous year. This is still lagging behind its major rivals, but it is definitely on the increase.

So far the fashion market has been inadequately handled by the biggest sites offering safe shopping online given the volatility of trends and fads, but experts believe that Google could have the edge thanks to its visual search technology.