SearchEngineLand has published its predictions for the evolution of local in 2008, with a note concerning local shopping:
Though it’s uneven and not always accurate, the depth and volume of product inventory information online is gaining. There have been tremendous strides over the past couple of years and this year should see local inventory information become even more common and widely proliferated online (and in mobile). More retailers are adding popular “buy online, pick up in store” capabilities. This requires a real-time inventory database, which can then support syndication and distribution of that information. Furthermore, a growing list of companies is making headway on the problem of helping consumers find where they can buy desired products locally. As I’ve written before, this expanding group includes: ShopLocal, TheFind, StepUp/Intuit, NearbyNow, Krillion, Where2GetIt, Channel Intelligence, Yokel, GPShopper, AskTheLocal and a few others.
Mobile is an especially interesting distribution channel for inventory information. However, by the end of 2008 consumers should see a great deal more “real-time inventory” information available through search and on shopping sites.
As I said previously, I strongly believe local shopping will become a hit for CSEs. I don’t think shopping engines will have access to the inventory databases of their merchants in 2008; but they will surely rely on databases of local shops. I have yet to review the new local features introduced by TheFind in December; but what they achieved is clearly a huge step in that direction.