Brands and retail stores are ready. A local inventory feed that enables consumers to search Google Shopping, Bing Shopping and Yahoo Shopping for the real-time inventory status of nearby retailers and brands will start to emerge within the next few years.
At last week's MediaPost Search Insider Summit, Rick Ducey, managing director at BIA/Kelsey, led Joan Arensman, search advocate at Google; Marc Canabou, VP of global search at Yahoo; and Jason Dailey, director of Bing evangelism at Microsoft, in a discussion about the future of search. Toward the end of that discussion, Bill Connard, VP of local search at RIO SEO, asked panelists how long it would be before the engines provide real-time inventory information online.
Search engines have been attempting for years to attach search queries to real-time local retail inventory in physical stores. A few retailers like Tesco tried to do this in the U.K. around 2005 using radio frequency identification tags on merchandise tied to their inventory control system. Then along came Milo, founded by Jack Abraham (son of comScore cofounder Magid Abraham) -- which got acquired, not by Google, to support its shopping engine.
"By 2017, you'll be able to do it for Nike"-- along with companies providing airline fares, hotel rates, and tire prices -- according to Dailey.
Canabou said it's difficult to put a date on that, but it probably will occur in the next three to four years. It points to the transition and the next phase in search, where engines unlock information across the Web rather than index it.
"It's too far out," said Arensman, referring to the 2017 timeline. "It depends on the inventory feed, but it's definitely the logical place to go."
IgnitionOne VP of strategic solutions Chris Knoch points to RTB for customers, meaning that consumers compare prices online, but what about having the ability to send a message to the store "that I'm about to walk out?" Arensman explains a feature called layer proximity bidding that supports the move toward real-time.