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Google Unveils New Search Updates to Help Local Shopping – WWD

Not to be eclipsed by the spate of news this week from Facebook, Apple and Amazon, Google made an announcement of its own on Wednesday, and it’s all about updated local shopping features.

To give shoppers greater visibility into what’s in stock nearby and which retailers offer curbside or in-store pickups, the tech giant revamped how it offers product search results in its online Shopping tab.

Shoppers have had a “nearby” filter to zero in on products for sale in their area. Now they can add “near me” or “nearby” to search queries to limit results to local inventory from the get-go. When they do use the Nearby filter, a “local stores” card pops up with inventory grouped under nearby stores along with a map showing their locations.

Google has been working to make critical retail information, like location, hours and pickup options, more visible. According to its blog, “searches for ‘curbside pickup’ and ‘safe shopping’ increase tenfold in the last few months.”

To connect people to this info more easily, the company came up with new labels for curbside and in-store pickup.

The goal with these updates is to ease the public’s jitters about shopping in person by “removing some of the unknowns,” the company said.

The changes may not get as much of a spotlight as the latest announcements from rival tech companies — or its own splashy introduction of its newest Pixel smartphones last month. But for this week, the search updates manage to fill a key void.

According to Yelp’s latest Economic Impact Report, released Wednesday, permanent closures for shopping and retail have hit a new benchmark. As of Aug. 31, nearly 60 percent of the U.S. businesses on Yelp that shut down reported that they will not reopen again, a 10 percent jump since mid-July.

Meanwhile, consumer spending slowed in August, with unemployment benefits drying up for millions of Americans.

These updates to product searches may not lead the tech news cycle this week, but for these stores and the consumers who rely on them, it may mean more.



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