Google readies plan to take on rivals Amazon, Flipkart in Indian market

In a move that is seen as a precursor to Google launching its ecommerce marketplace in India, the company on Wednesday unveiled a new search experience in India. 

The new personalised experience will allow users to filter through offers easily, review prices from multiple retailers and find the products they are looking for. 

This experience is available across several Google products: The Shopping Homepage, the Shopping tab on Google Search and Google Lens. 

For retailers, Google has expanded its Merchant Center to Hindi. According to sources, it plans to expand the sources into at least seven Indian languages over the next few months. The company wants to create a vernacular platform which will help it bring in non-English speaking users.

“The new ‘Shopping Homepage’ is a made-to-browse destination for shoppers to search across multiple product categories, and browse through products from thousands of retailers. To make the shopping experience richer, smart features like price drops and a collection of the most popular products have been added on Google,” the company said.

The ‘Shopping Tab’ in Google Search will allow users to post queries in Hindi and English and show product lists, local store inventory and review prices from across multiple retailers. Also, its new feature Style Search in Google Lens is an all-new visual approach to find products such as clothes, furniture, and home decor, by simply pointing the to Lens app. 

“More than 40 million Indians are coming online every year, and search is an integral part of their journey. From seasoned desktop shoppers to first-time users with entry-level smartphones, we hope this new shopping experience will make finding what people are looking for just a little bit easier,” Surojit Chatterjee, vice-president, Product Management, Google, said.

For retailers, Merchant Center has always been the place to upload, store and produce data for Shopping ads. So far, the Merchant Center has only been available in English, and starting today, it is expanding to Hindi. Retailers can now also use Merchant Center to upload product details so they can appear across Google, without paying for ad campaigns. 

“With this launch, our aim is to support the entire retail ecosystem, from shopping sites and large retailers to small local shops, and give them the tools, technology and scale,” added Chatterjee.

In August, the company said it is tying up with more than 2,000 e-commerce companies, including big names such as cab aggregator Uber and movie ticketing platform BookMyShow, to add about 1.2 million offline merchants, including the likes of Big Bazaar. Google is on a hyperdrive to create an ecosystem where everything will hinge on the payments app. The company is also going to offer consumers instant loans on its platforms and has partnered four banks — HDFC, ICICI, Kotak Mahindra and Federal Bank.

According to Google, a pre-approved loan limit for individuals, based on their bank account and Tez app’s transaction history, will be set. The app’s users will get the money deposited directly into their bank accounts.

The technology giant rebranded its Made-in-India Tez app, launched in September last year, as Google Pay, with an eye on expanding the platform to other markets. “We have learnt that when we build for India, we build for the world,” Caesar Sengupta, general manager of payments and vice-president of Google’s Next Billion Users initiative, said at the ‘Google for India’ event in August. 

While the company has kept its e-commerce plans under wraps, this is being touted as the first move to enter the segment. “The company has 1.2 million merchants. It is partnering online cab aggregators, travel companies and ticketing firms, as well as expanding its tie-ups with brick-and-mortar retailers. It is all pointing towards creating an ecosystem which Amazon or even Flipkart has. The next step will be getting into the online marketplace,” said a source close to the company.

With Amazon as well as Flipkart trying to reach customers directly, Google is losing out on advertisement sales revenue. Now, with e-commerce, Google is hoping to make users stick to its platform.

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