I got a release of sorts from Google this a.m. explaining in more detail the offline/local product data that Froogle will be featuring online. As an example, here's "digital camera, San Francisco" — just in time for Black Friday/Cyber Monday.
Here's Google's statement:
Thanks to a new feature in Froogle, Google€™s shopping search engine, shoppers can now find that must-have gift at a store in their neighborhood without running all over town. Today Google announced the addition of local merchants€™ content to Froogle http://froogle.google.com. By entering the item you€™re looking for and your location information, Froogle will show locations nearby that offer the product and pinpoint the stores on a map. So, whether a user wants to order it online or run out and grab it for a holiday party the same evening, Froogle can help.
Here's how local merchants, using Google Base, can upload inventory information. This is a way for Google to "carry" their inventory online without them needing to have a Web site (Google Base as a substitute/alternative Web presence).
As StepUp.com CEO Kendall Fargo said to me recently about small retailers, "Their inventory is their Web site."
Consumers clearly want local, offline shopping information (even though more will be avoiding crowds and lines this year). And everyone — Yahoo!, Shopzilla, eBay's Shopping.com, etc. — that wants to be competitive in the online shopping arena will eventually have both online and offline inventory information. Then the question becomes: How do the engines monetize those offline leads (or how do they get "credit" for them)?
PPCall, call tracking, coupons?