Imagine this scenario: It’s the end of the day and you really, really needed a product — let’s say a Wi-Fi USB adapter for a computer. You grab your phone and start searching Google. Within seconds, you see a complete list of stores near you that carry the adapter. You make a mad dash to the store, make your purchase and you’re up and running within the hour. It’s not a store you would have thought of before, but now it’s top of mind for your next purchase.

We take this level of instant access to store inventory for granted, but in truth, there are a lot of moving parts that go into the perfect search result. To deliver split-second results, it takes intense coordination between marketing agencies, search engines and retailers.