Yesterday Microsoft and Local Corporation announced a deal in which the latter’s Krillion local product database will be provided to Bing for display in search results. Local Corp. will supply in-stock product data from a range of mostly national-local retailers.
The list of participating retailers includes BestBuy, Costco, Express, Fry’s, Home Depot, Kmart, Lowe’s, Nordstrom, Orchard Supply, Office Depot, Radio Shack, Rite Aid, Sears, Staples, Target, True Value and Wal-Mart. All of the indexed products from these stores — it’s not clear if this includes all in-store inventory — will be available on Bing.
Local Corp. bought local product inventory provider Krillion in early 2011. Through that acquisition Local inherited a potentially sweeping patent (8,032,427) that covers presentation of product inventory data online, for offline retailers.
Bing’s Bill Hankes said, “We think the addition of Local.com’s product data can help consumers by letting them know which brands and categories are in stores. The inclusion of this data, however, does not change the way in which Bing ranks results based on relevance.”
In a way that’s unfortunate because it would create incentives for retailers to get their inventory online.
Local Corp. offered the following statement to me in email: “We’re providing our entire dynamic shopping data set to them. We’ll be coming out with updated growth numbers for our platform (brands, categories, etc.) soon.”
Several years ago there were a number of startups competing to bring local product inventory online. The recession hit some of these startups and stalled their growth. There were also a number of acquisitions in the segment, including NearbyNow by JiWire, Milo by eBay and Killion by Local Corp. Most retailers have also been slow to put their inventory data online and small, independent retailers have done almost nothing in terms of getting their product data onto the internet.
Local product search engine Goodzer (which offers an API) has taken a different approach and crawls retail websites, matching products with store locations. And Yext has an offering that includes some product inventory syndication as part of its larger local data distribution network.
Google has a “in nearby stores” inventory filter in its Shopping Search but the company has not invested in deepening product inventory. The advent of indoor location will likely present a new opportunity to get product inventory data online.
It’s not clear what percentage of product queries are inventory related. However most products are purchased in local stores.
While e-commerce, and more recently m-commerce, has grown into the billions, online shopping remains a fraction of offline consumer spending (5.8 percent of total US retail). Recently I calculated that online-influenced offline spending (“O2O”) represented something approaching $2 trillion annually.