Google promised to bring local inventory data to online and mobile shopping and the company has started to roll the program out. According to a post on the Google Mobile Blog today:
if you’re searching for a product that is sold by participating retailers, including Best Buy, Sears, Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, or West Elm, you can just look for the blue dots in the search results to see if it’s available in a local store.
If you see a blue dot, you can tap on the adjacent “In stock nearby” link, and you’ll be taken to the seller’s page where you’ll see whether the item is “In Stock” or has “Limited Availability” near you. You’ll also see how far away the stores are from you — as long as you’ve enabled My Location or manually specified your location.
This is only mobile for the time being.
Update: TechCrunch runs the sensational headline “Google Cuts Milo At The Knees With Its Blue Dot Specials.” Actually the opposite is true in most respects.
This move will validate Milo and some of the other players in the segment, such as Krillion, which have been chugging along but not recognized as killer apps. Now everyone will want to talk to those folks, scared that Google will start to be much more competitive in shopping.
No one can afford to be complacent; think Google Maps vs. MapQuest, which for too long dismissed what Google was doing as frivolous “bells and whistles” to its ultimate detriment. This information is far more central to the shopping experience than most analysts and marketers realize.
This is what people really want: tell me what it costs, how good it is and where I can buy it.