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New Google search feature shows shoppers in-store inventories

Google has unveiled new search functions aimed at improving the online shopping experience, including allowing consumers to see retailers’ in-store inventory from wherever they are using their device.

The enhancements have been enabled using advances in AI technology, the company said during its livestreamed Search On conference overnight.

A new addition to search results – an “in stock” filter – will show if nearby stores have specific items on their shelves. In an example provided by the search provider, someone looking for a kids bike helmet can click on the filter to find stores nearby that have a helmet – right down to a specific brand or style – on their shelves.

A screenshot of Google’s new shopping search feature.

The new feature launched overnight in Australia, New Zealand and Japan, along with the UK, multiple European markets, Brazil, and Canada. 

Another feature aimed at creating what Google describes as “a more shoppable search experience” provides visual feeds. For example, search for “cropped jackets,” and Google will deliver a visual feed of jackets in various colours and styles alongside useful information like local shops, style guides and videos. 

“With this new capability, you can tap on the Lens icon when you’re looking at a picture of a shirt, and ask Google to find you the same pattern – but on another article of clothing, like socks,” said Alphabet senior VP Prabhakar Raghavan.

“This helps when you’re looking for something that might be difficult to describe accurately with words alone.”

This new feature is powered by Google’s ‘Shopping Graph’ which it describes as “a comprehensive, real-time dataset of products, inventory and merchants with over 24 billion listings”. This experience has been released only in the US for now, but other markets will follow. 

Another feature, called Lens in Chrome will be launched globally during the coming months, allowing consumers to select images, video and text content on a website and see search results in the same tab – without leaving the page they are on.

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