Posts

Ahead of the holiday shopping season, Google Maps is launching four new features aimed at improving the in-person shopping experience for consumers and driving more sales for local businesses.

The updates not only make it easier to plan your shopping trips ahead of time but also bring many shoppers new ways to order from local businesses online.

Let’s explore these four new features:

New Local Shopping Features for Google Maps

1. Area Busyness

Everyone dreads the idea of getting stuck in a massive holiday shopping crowd when you are just trying to pick up a few things. Now, you can see an estimate of how busy a specific area is before you leave.

For this new feature, called Area Busyness, Google analyzes recent traffic data from local businesses nearby to gauge how many people are shopping in the area.

To see the Area Busyness information, simply open Google Maps and tap on a general area to see how busy it is.

Notably, Google says shopping malls tend to be least busy on Tuesday evenings, while Saturday is unsurprisingly the busiest time to shop.

2. Expanded Directory Tabs

Google Maps is expanding the existing Directory tab globally for all airports, malls, and transit stations on Android and iOS devices.

The Directory tab details the stores in a shopping center, as well as showing airport lounges, car rental agencies, and other services in a building.

The tab also includes other helpful information pulled from local listings, such as whether specific stores are open and their Google reviews.

3. Grocery Shopping on Google

After testing the feature with some stores earlier this year, Google is expanded its grocery shopping feature to over 2,000 stores in 30+ states across the US.

Now, shoppers can order groceries from several large companies in the country, such as Kroger, Fry’s, Ralphs, and Marianos.

Once ordered, Google Maps tracks your order status and allows you to share your location info with the store so they will know when you arrive.

According to data from the tool before the expansion, Google says that customers who shared their ETA typically waited less than five minutes to pick up their order.

4. Additional Restaurant Info From Customers

Google Business Profiles for restaurants will now include more information provided by reviewers.

When leaving a review, Google now prompts customers to estimate the restaurant’s price ranges and note any amenities the restaurant offers – such as curbside pickup, delivery, or outdoor seating.

For more information about these updates, read the blog post from Google Maps Director of Product, Amanda Leicht Moore.

Google has made it easy for businesses to tell users what accessibility features they provide before they ever visit the store with their latest addition to Google My Business listings.

Now, you can add accessibility information about your business or search for places which provide accessibility features like wheelchair ramps and wheelchair-accessible parking.

You can update your listing by simply going to the main menu of Google Maps for Android, pulling up the main menu, and tapping on “Your contributions.” From there, go to “Uncover missing info” and sort by “Accessibility.”

This pulls up locations near you that are missing accessibility information, including your business. Then, you can begin adding accessibility attributes as needed, including:

  • Wheelchair-accessible entrances
  • Wheelchair-accessible elevators
  • Wheelchair-accessible seating, and
  • Wheelchair-accessible parking

The set-up of the new feature allows any users to add accessibility information about any business they visit, but business owners can take the initiative to update their own listings to alert shoppers about what they offer before they make the trip themselves.

Since the release of the new listing information, Google says users have added accessibility information to almost 7 million places worldwide.

google-my-business-1

When it comes to marketing your business, it’s all about image. How people perceive your business will decide whether they decide to come in the door or walk away. This is especially true online.

One of the first images people will see when they find your business is almost always your photos in your local listings on search engines. Thankfully, Google has given you more control and more data on how your images are performing.

With the new insights for photos on business listings, you can see how people are responding to your listing and images and compare them against your competition.

You can easily see the new insights in your Google My Business listing by clicking the Insights tab on the top navigation bar. At the bottom of the screen, you’ll find a graph comparing your business to “businesses like you”.

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-11-29-21-am-760x456

You can refine the time-period you want to look at by the past 90 days, past 30 days, and past 7 days.

Unfortunately, you can’t select exactly what businesses you are comparing your site against, nor do you even get to know who the “businesses like you” are. But, the new tool can still be an effective way to make sure you are making a great first impression with your listings on Google.