Google to push mobile storefronts for retailers

Google is launching a new program to promote the creation of mobile e-commerce sites anchored by its Commerce Search application

After a recent survey revealed that almost 80 percent of its largest customers lack a mobile-optimized website, Google has decided to launch a program to address that issue specifically among retailers.

Google unveiled on Wednesday its Commerce Search Partner Program, designed to market and implement mobile e-commerce sites.

The system integrators participating in the program will anchor the implementations with Google's Commerce Search, a cloud-hosted application that retailers buy to power the search engine of their e-commerce sites.

However, the Google partners will also be in a position to set up the other components necessary for retailers to have a fully functioning mobile storefront, said Nitin Mangtani, Google Commerce product manager, in an interview.

"Partners can build a complete mobile website leveraging Commerce Search on the back end," Mangtani said.

An end-to-end mobile e-commerce site can be set up in days, so retailers can still get one ready for the busy holiday shopping season, he said.

"Although we're already in the fourth quarter, it doesn't take very long to build a mobile Web store," he said.

Having a mobile store has become essential for retailers due to the continued rise in the use of smartphones, especially while out shopping, he said. Already two retailers have built mobile e-commerce sites through the program: Timberland and GNC.

The program is launching first in the U.S. with two partners -- Branding Brand and Perficient Systems -- but the plan is to extend it abroad and to grow the roster of participating system integrators. The partner program will also promote the creation of regular online stores designed for desktop browsers.

Commerce Search, launched two years ago, starts at US$25,000 and pricing is based on the number of products in the e-store's search index and on the number of queries run per year.

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