Google has boosted its Images search by launching ads and local inventory features in a move to keep up with the ever-increasing rates of mobile purchasing.

Ads have appeared alongside related products in Google Images, giving users the opportunity to click through to a retailer’s site when they see a product they like.

To make the purchase journey even more convenient, shoppers can now buy online and collect in store, using pickup links to local websites.

The feature is brought up to Image search for the first time, although reports indicate it has been in testing with a number of brands.

Easy shopping

The tech giant has broadened its offering in response to the growing rates of mobile shopping searches, which it found increased by 30% in the past year.

It’s not just organic searches, though, as users head to Google for inspiration on potential purchases – those ‘micro-moments’ eventually driving sales.

The company’s VP of product management Jonathan Alferness explained that the customers who browse on their smartphones use product images as their preferred shopping feature.

“And it turns out, the top questions Google Images users ask us are ‘What’s the price of this?’ and ‘Where can I buy it?'” he added in his blog post.

The new feature will solve this problem as ads have started to appear on a carousel above search results on mobile. It’s part of the Google Search Network, so if a brand’s campaign is opted in to Search partners, Product Listing Ads will show in the Images search feed automatically.

Driving sales

Building on its survey revealing that searches including a store name, zip code or phrases such as ‘near me’ have doubled in the past year, Google is also capitalising on local search intent.

Users can buy online and pick up their orders in store, and it is possible to click on a link to search for items at the shopper’s store of choice to see whether the product they are after is in stock locally.

Advertisers using local inventory ads can now also make their stock searchable on Google.

As an example of a success story, in his blog post, Alferness mentioned American department store retail chain Kohl’s, which participated in the store pick-up pilot program. He reported the number of clicks from its Google local storefront to the site rose from 40% to 50% during that trial.

In what proved to be a lengthy update, Google also confirmed positive feedback on Google Express – a same-day or overnight delivery service – and Purchases, a feature launched last July to enabling easy buying directly from mobile search ads.