Monday, July 25, 2011

Local Search Has Lots of Room for Improvement

According to BIA/Kelsey Group, local digital advertising revenues will climb to $42.5 billion by 2015, almost double 2010’s $21.7 billion. While local search continues to grow, my personal local shopping experience last week shows it still has ways to go.

I had to replace 2 rear tires on my car and was trying to find a local tire shop. I knew the brand and model of the tires I needed so I simply turned to Google product search.

And what did I find? Nothing!

This surprised me, given how many auto and tire shops I've seen around San Francisco...heck, even the Bay Area. Google couldn't return one single result!

However, in another category, like computer printers, the results were more promising. For example, a search for "hp officejet 4500 printer" returned this result:

And when I click on the 25+ nearby stores - in stock link on the right, I got a Google Map with the merchants and their prices on a screen like this:

That was what I was hoping to find with my tire search. No such luck! It was frustrating that even in today's digital world, I just had to call around and ask friends for recommendations.

So, for at least the tire category, it's not that great despite the fact I was ready to buy with exact product specs. Perhaps some day it'll be as smooth a customer experience as my Barnes & Noble mobile experience from last year.


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