Nearly every organization has been forced to adopt some pretty drastic changes in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Google is one of them. On both their desktop site and their mobile app, Google has just recently implemented some fairly drastic updates to their maps feature in order to help small companies succeed during the crisis.
Amazingly, the increase in traffic on Google for keywords like “takeout near me” is up 260% since February and has since reached an all-time high in the month of April. The same can be said for terms like “how to help small businesses”. In fact, Google had more temporary and permanent businesses close in March and April than all of 2019 and the experts are predicting more than 100,000 of these types of commercial undertakings have shut their doors since March. Clearly adding new features is in Google, the customers in need of services, and small businesses themselves best interest’s at this time.Read More »
The most obvious new addition is the designation of a store being temporarily open or closed, and if it offers takeout, delivery or dine-in services. Any enterprise on Google Maps will also have the opportunity to update their page when anything changes. There is also a place for businesses to put any modified hours of operation relating to the pandemic. Of course, this makes perfect sense with all of the confusion surrounding which businesses are reopening after weeks of being shutdown.
Better integration with delivery apps
As previously mentioned, the demand for food to be delivered has skyrocketed in recent months. Google have added another update that accounts for this. Each store can choose to pick a preferred delivery service on the maps page. Another change for these kinds of restaurants is that they do not have to have a dine-in experience to be verified by Google. These kinds of businesses had previously not been allowed on the platform and were considered “virtual kitchens”.
The addition of allowing a preferred delivery app for customers to use by Google will help businesses save money on commissions paid out to the delivery providers. Finally, Google has made it a priority of working with an expanded number of delivery partners and is now offering more than 25,000 new places to order food from.
Donations and gift cards
Google is also giving businesses a way to allow customers an easy way to give donations or purchase gift cards. Google has partnered with both Paypal and GoFundMe to make the donations a much easier process. In addition, businesses are able to link to a specific page and accept payment for gift cards via Square, Vagaro, Toast, and Clover. There is no doubt that the increased exposure of both of these kinds of transactions should at least bring in some extra income for a struggling restaurant or commercial operation over time.
The growth of virtual services
Google is also tackling the problem that is real for in-person businesses. Numerous businesses have decided to switch their practices and focus on a more virtual product than before. One example might be a Yoga studio that is now offering classes online only. Google is aware of this and will be allowing anyone offering a service more ways to notify customers about any changes to the overall company structure. This means users will be able to have a better idea of exactly what a business they want to support is offering.
Easily make reservations
Google has also worked to put out a platform that allows for customers to make online appointments or reservations as easily as possible. The ability to book a reservation will be a logical step in the right direction for Google Maps. Once a reservation is booked, the details of the booking can then be easily integrated with Google Calendar.
These are all much needed changes as social distancing becomes the new normal. Being the middleman for important information between the customer and the business is a large responsibility and Google is attempting to stay up to date. All of these features will be rolled out in areas across the world over the next few months if they haven’t been already. These are by no means the only features Google will introduce but they are the most imminent and necessary. The fact that many have been left in the dark up until now is unfortunate, but Google’s new features are definitely a huge step in the right direction