Google is adding a new ‘Shopping’ tab to its search function in India, wherein it will show products from many online retailers in both Hindi and English. The Shopping tab will appear on both mobile and desktop versions of Google Search in India, and it will work with the Lens search feature as well.
Google says the Shopping tab is a product designed specifically for India, and the company plans to bring offline retailers on board as well, though they are not yet listed as part of the search options. The Shopping tab will let users compare products and prices across retailers as well.
“The are 40 million Indians coming online every year. In India, there are a total of 450 million internet users right now. However, only one third of these have ever shopped online, and this includes all types of purchases, including tickets, hotel bookings, retails. When it comes to actual retail, the figure is even smaller. We want to open up the ecosystem, and help bring more users online,” Surojit Chatterjee, Vice President – Product Management, Google explained in an interaction with members of the media.
Google Shopping will offer a highly personalised shopping experience. “We are using machine learning to fine-tune the experience. As you use the service more and more, it will show the categories most relevant to you,” Chatterjeet pointed out.
When one goes to google.com/shopping in India right now, they will see “Tablets, E-Readers & Mobile” as the top category followed by top deals, and then a row of phones from Xiaomi. Scrolling further down shows categories like electronics, skincare, health and beauty.
However, after a user has tried out the Google Shopping tab, the homepage will reflect those categories that a user browses more. For instance, if you enjoy shopping for clothes online and have used Google Shopping for the same, that category will come right on top, followed by similar products.
Google says it is not charging websites anything extra in order to show their inventory in the Shopping tab. Any retailer can join the Google Merchant Centre and enter their retail inventory in order to showcase their content on the Shopping tab. The Merchant centre will also support Hindi from now on.
The Shopping tab on Google will let users do price comparison. It will also be integrated with Google Lens, which is present on all Android phones. Google Lens allows the user to take a photo of the product, and then the system searches for a similar product online.
All the content shown on Google Shopping will come from the information entered by retailers. The Shopping tab on Google Search will also highlight sales promotions and if the price drops on a product. According to Google executives, the company looks at that average historic price of a product, and then determines if there has been a price drop, before adding the tag.
Google did not reveal the exact number of merchants on board with the Merchant centre, which is a global product.
When asked about the offline players in India, Chatterjee explained that currently the company is conducting a pilot programme with some retailers, but did not confirm when these offline players would start showcasing their products on Google.
When asked about search bias, and whether certain retailers would often end up appearing on top in search results, Chatterjee explained that their results are not influenced by any commercial agreements, and that they will rely on machine learning to showcase the best answer.
When asked about how Google would weed out fake products listed online, a problem that continues to plague even the more established e-commerce platforms, he highlighted that the company has teams which work specifically on this.
“We do not let commercial agreements come in way of removing products. If we get complaints from users regarding a seller, we can delist them as well.”