RealTime IT News

Google Offers Local Product Availability Search

Before you head over to Sears for that fancy new drill or to Best Buy for your dream notebook, you might want to check Google first. This week, the search giant's Product Search Availability feature went live, allowing you to find out of if the item you're looking for is in stock at a nearby store.

The service is currently limited to a select number of retailers that includes Best Buy, Sears, Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn and West Elm.

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and search competitors Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) have also offered shopping services including Bing's use of a photo gallery of items in results with readily available product specs. Just hover over the item with your mouse.

With Google's latest offering, a blue dot identifies items in search results that are available from a retailer. Blue dot results will also have an "In stock nearby" link. Tapping on that link brings you to the relevant seller's page which will show whether the item is "In Stock" or has "Limited Availability," according to Google. You can also see how far away the store is from your current location, assuming you've specified where you are or enabled Google's My Location feature.

Google already also offers the shopping feature for mobile devices -- specifically, the iPhone, Palm Pre and Pixi and any Android-powered phone. The mobile feature is available in the U.S. by going to Google.com in the device's mobile browser, tapping on the "more" link and selecting "Shopping."

Google has set up a site where merchants who want to participate in the < a href=http://google.com/support/merchants/bin/request.py?contact_type=local_shopping>Google Local Shopping program can register.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.