Google Offers Catalog Shopping App For Tablets

Browse rich media catalogs from the likes of Crate and Barrel and L.L. Bean on your iPad.
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Having last year opened up an online fashion portal at to sell clothing from third-party merchant partners, Google is looking beyond a single storefront to help traditional retailers. The company on Tuesday launched Google Catalogs, a tablet app that allows users to browse a collection of rich media catalogs from brand name stores.

Google Catalogs includes content from Anthropologie, Bare Escentuals, Bergdorf Goodman, Crate and Barrel, L.L. Bean, Lands' End, Macy's, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Pottery Barn, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sephora, Sundance, Tea Collection, Urban Outfitters and Williams-Sonoma, among others.

The app is only available for Apple's iPad at the moment, in the iTunes App Store. Google promises to deliver an Android version soon. The app enables online purchasing and also offers directions to nearby stores, in the event the user seeks to make an in-person purchase or the item isn't available online.

Kinnari Jhaveri, strategic partner development manager on Google's commerce team, observes in a blog post that "mobile technologies can make catalog shopping more engaging, social, and creative."

Google Catalogs enables users to interact with product images and videos, to locate products in nearby stores, to save possible purchases in a collage, to share products or collages with friends, to receive updates when new catalogs arrive, and to search across multiple catalogs.

Google also is enhancing content discovery for search on the Web. The company has released a tool called Google Related, as a Chrome extension and as a feature built into the latest version of Google Toolbar.

Google Related tries to present information related to the Web page that the user is viewing. For instance, a visit to a restaurant website could show reviews and other places to eat that are nearby.

Google Related displays results in a menu bar that appears at the bottom of the user's browser, and is minimized until used. It includes a built-in Google +1 button for social endorsement.

Ran Ben-Yair, product manager on the Google Related team, notes that in order for Google Related to work, it has to send information about the page the user is viewing back to Google. Those concerned about this should review Google's privacy policy for the Chrome extension or Google Toolbar.

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