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Google is planning to create an online market for traditional retailers via its recently unveiled Google Base service. The search engine giant is looking to create a "virtual supermarket" by developing the service, which is currently undergoing beta testing.

Google EMEA head Nikesh Arora told the Financial Times that the search engine giant was targeting firms in sectors such as real estate as well as the more obvious retail segment of the market with the service. Google's "value add" is to index and package offers in an easy to use format. "Google Base is going to have a huge impact on retailers," he said.

Many of the largest retailers have already invested heavily in creating an online presence. But others are yet to set up shop online despite a massive growth in ecommerce sales over recent years. One big UK retailer that currently lacks an online presence told the FT that Google's online market concept would be attractive providing it also handled the onerous task of physically distributing goods.

Google Base is a significant development because up to now the service has been viewed as a classified ads service targeted at consumers. The creation of an ecommerce launch pad for retailers pitches Google against similar initiatives from the likes of Amazon (whose clients include US bookseller Borders and UK supermarket Marks and Spencer) and eBay. ®

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