For some time I’ve tried to argue that product search is part of “local search,” because 90 percent or more of all products searched for online are purchased in physical stores. This is a neglected part of the local search story, which has heretofore largely been about “plumbers and pizza.” But the internet is fundamentally a research tool that drives offline transactions. E-commerce is, relatively speaking, a niche phenomenon.

That’s why mobile applications such as TheFind’s new iPhone app or Slifter and others are significant: they help bridge the gap between the internet and physical stores. They also help make this online-offline connection more transparent to brands, retailers and agencies.

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