Google app shows shoppers what’s in stock nearby

It’s been on the cards for some time, and now Google has introduced a Product Search service allowing cellphone users to check out the inventory in local stores.

“As of today, if you’re searching for a product that is sold by participating retailers, including Best Buy, Sears, Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, or West Elm, you can just look for the blue dots in the search results to see if it’s available in a local store,” say product managers Paul Lee and Yury Pinsky in a company blog.

“If you see a blue dot, you can tap on the adjacent ‘In stock nearby’ link, and you’ll be taken to the seller’s page where you’ll see whether the item is ‘In Stock’ or has ‘Limited Availability’ near you.”

If users have enabled My Location or manually specified their location, they’ll also be shown exactly how far away the stores are.

The service works with the iPhone, Palm WebOS phones or Android devices.

Google is encouraging other retailers to sign up. It may need them: specialist shopping search firm Milo works with about 50 retailers to Google’s five.