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Monthly Archives: April 2014

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Target App Now Features In-Store Product Search And Inventory Maps

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By Greg Sterling

Just in time for the frenzied holiday shopping season Target is introducing product inventory search into its mobile app. The functionality is powered by PointInside but doesn’t rely on beacons or other indoor location technologies.

Following a 40-store trial earlier this year, PointInside announced this morning that Target will be rolling out its “StoreMode” product inventory search and mapping capability in all the company’s nearly 2,000 North American retail locations.

Smartphone owners will be able to use the updated app to search for local product inventory when not in the store. However, once users enter Target stores — store presence will be passively detected through geofencing — they will have access to a range of search and find capabilities. The app also provides a type-ahead/auto-complete feature.

Items can be quickly be added to shopping lists (also accessible outside the store). But in-store product locations will automatically be appended to items on the list. Accordingly every product is mapped to its in-store aisle location, which can be accessed on a map. PointInside also told me that all of Target’s Black Friday “doorbuster” items will be plotted on the interactive map as well.

Below are some screens provided by PointInside reflecting the basic elements of the upgraded user experience.

PointInside StoreMode Target

PointInside has already deployed similar capabilities with Lowe’s and grocery chain Meijer.

The company said that more than 70 percent of retailer mobile app usage is focused on the in-store experience. Historically retail apps have been small-screen versions of their e-commerce sites. They’re just starting to realize there’s much more value in evolving these apps to in-store shopping assistants.

PointInside’s Pete Coleman also indicated, based on data he’s seen, that between 10 percent and 30 percent of consumers leave stores without buying a desired product, because they can’t find it, even though that product is actually on the shelf.

Offering an in-store search or mapping capability dramatically increases user app engagement and retention, says PointInside’s Coleman. Despite the fact that nearly 90 percent of user time is spent with apps, most consumers don’t have many retailer apps on their smartphones. These types of in-store features can help boost the numbers.

Indeed, nearly all of the top 100 retailers are deploying or experimenting with some sort of mobile-enhanced in-store user experience. Many retailers are deploying Bluetooth beacons and specifically Apple’s iBeacon spec (though PointInside’s solution doesn’t rely on beacons). These top 100 retailers collectively represent more than $2.5 trillion in annual sales in the US.

An enhanced in-store experience is one of brick-and-mortar’s top weapons against pure-play e-commerce. In addition, expedited payment systems (e.g., Apple Pay) will also be part of this improved in-store experience among those that “get it right.” Despite the recent MCX payments controversy Target remains one of Apple’s Pay’s marquee partners.

Walmart also recently updated its app with a new in-store product search capability. Both Walmart’s and Target’s in-app product search features can be monetized through advertising. That’s not currently happening but it’s likely to happen over time as a new potential retail revenue stream — and digital version of in-store merchandising.

It also goes without saying that the search and other data that Target will gain from its customers in the aggregate will provide extremely valuable insights about product demand and user behavior.

The post Target App Now Features In-Store Product Search And Inventory Maps appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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French Court Trying To Impose Right-To-Be-Forgotten Decision On Google Worldwide

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By Greg Sterling

Google is facing daily fines of €1,000 in France, under a punitive ruling tied to the Right-to-Be-Forgotten (RTBF), unless it removes links to an article from its index globally, according to The Guardian. Several politicians in Europe have recently suggested that the RTBF should extend to all Google results worldwide, not just country level indexes.

This appears to be the first effort to formally enforce such an idea.

Google removed the disputed link to an allegedly defamatory story in French search results. It has not done so, however, on Google.com. The French court imposed the €1,000 daily fine after Google declined to remove the link globally.

It may be legally permissible to seek removal of RTBF content throughout the EU and its member states. However it’s beyond the French court’s legal authority and jurisdiction to try and impose European RTBF law on countries not within the EU.

The French court’s action represents both increasing frustration with and hostility toward the US-based Google but also an increasingly brazen attitude in challenging the company.

Given that RTBF standards have yet to be coherently established, compliance with the French court’s order in this case would be unwise at best. Beyond that doing so would create a dangerous censorship precedent.

To throw what’s at stake into stark relief, complying with the French court’s ruling would be the same as eliminating all worldwide references to the Tiananmen Square massacre because that information is illegal in China and the Chinese government requested a worldwide purge.

French courts have jurisdiction over acts and events in France. There may also be reciprocal enforcement agreements within the EU that give their decisions the force of law in other countries. However French and EU courts have no legal authority to regulate the content of search results in North America or Asia or Africa or anywhere else outside of their jurisdiction.

The post French Court Trying To Impose Right-To-Be-Forgotten Decision On Google Worldwide appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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German Publisher Axel Springer: Loss Of Snippets Caused 80 Percent Traffic Drop

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By Greg Sterling

Axel Springer, Germany’s largest publisher and the owner of Europe’s largest newspaper, has said it wants back in to snippets. According to Reuters the German publishing giant revealed that traffic to its four largest online properties from Google search results “had fallen by 40 percent” and referrals from Google News had dropped “by 80 percent in the past two weeks.”

We previously reported on the decision by VG Media, a consortium of German publishers including Axel Springer, to opt back in to snippets because of a significant traffic decline that would have potentially caused some of its members “to go bankrupt.”

Google has long maintained in its disputes with publishers that it sends valuable traffic their way. This episode seems to vindicate that argument. Yet the decision to opt back in to snippets is not a truce but a temporary cease fire as the German publisher bitterly acknowledged its dependance on Google traffic.

In the wake of the controversy surrounding the country’s relatively new “ancillary copyright” law, Axel Springer had opted out of Google snippets for properties welt.de, computerbild.de, sportbild.de and autobild.de, according to the Reuters report.

This followed a complicated back and forth under the copyright law regarding how much publisher content would be included in Google results. VG Media had sought to compel Google to include their content but also to pay for it. Google opted to reduce publisher content to headlines to minimize its potential liability under the new copyright rules.

Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner previously wrote an “Open Letter to Eric Schmidt” in which he said his company was “afraid of Google”:

Google is a prime example of a market-dominating company. With a seventy-percent global market share, Google defines the infrastructure on the Internet . . . Then there are search engines with market shares of up to 6 percent. These are pseudo-competitors. The market belongs to a single company . . . Google is not only market-dominating but super market dominating.

Doepfner’s acknowledgement of the importance of snippets was evidence of this market dominance. And he called again for regulatory intervention by the EU.

There’s a general consensus among regulators and politicians in Europe that Google is a “monopoly.” And there’s a strong desire to restrain Google in some fashion; however no one has been able to agree on a precise remedy and Google’s rivals have kept the political pressure on and thwarted previous settlement proposals.

Spain recently followed Germany in passing a similarly restrictive copyright law. That will likely cause a similar snippets drama to play out in the country. Yet newly installed Digital Economy Commissioner Günther Oettinger wants to see a Europe-wide version of Germany’s ancillary copyright law.

The ultimate ambition of all these efforts is to freeze Google search results and compel the company to index and showcase publisher content while legally forcing it to pay for that content — essentially a link tax. However PC World previously discussed the possibility that any attempt by Google to de-index or completely delist publishers from the search results could be a violation of European antitrust law.

The post German Publisher Axel Springer: Loss Of Snippets Caused 80 Percent Traffic Drop appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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