Google Makes In-Store Shopping Easier With Latest Features
September 29, 2020
Article Overview10min read
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many restrictions to movement and social gatherings were implemented that significantly impacted the workflow of numerous retail outlets. Many customers had already changed to e-commerce and online shopping – to avoid exposure to the virus- whereas many others are still relying on the in-store shopping experience. Google is making a few changes to its shopping searches to make it more convenient for such customers to find ways to pick up products locally. The search engine company aims to combine the safety of shopping online with the immediacy of buying in-store.
According to Google’s official blog post, certain searches for “curbside pickup” and “safe shopping” spike rose tenfold in the last few months as convenience and safety have become the key aspects that everyone is looking for as they decide how to shop. Especially when it comes to in-store shopping these days, customers have several questions – such as which stores have reopened? Do they have sufficient stock of the item I need? Do they offer any services to reduce contact and time-spent in store for shoppers? – in their mind, that aren’t easy ones to answer. Google’s latest improvements to shopping search results is an attempt to answer these questions as it would help customers shop at nearby businesses easily and safely.
Let’s check out the latest features:
Local Availability Filter
While searching for specific types of products, users can now filter results to show only what’s available near them. For instance, if you’re looking for a new laptop as you work from home, a baby jacket for fall or a grill for backyard barbecues, Google’s new filter helps you to see what’s available locally.
Simply tap the Shopping tab, and select the “Nearby” filter at the top of the search page or add “near me” to your search to view locally available product options from stores located near you.
This feature is a great help for users who want to view an item in person before making a purchase, or simply cannot wait for shipping and delivery.
Map View with Product Comparison
Shoppers can now compare hours, locations and inventory from local retailers without leaving their home and only a map view and list of stores in the area.
With this latest feature, Google makes it easier to see what’s in stores near a shopper before committing to going in person. According to Greg Sterling at Search Engine Land, this feature is called a “local stores card.” The Google Search Shopping local stores card is “constructed of local inventory data from merchant feeds”.
When a user searches for any product near them, Google will display a carousel containing images and prices of available products by local retailers near them. Along with this feature, shoppers can also check each business’s opening and closing hours, as well as how far each store is from them.
However, Google will only display information that is accurate in “nearby” searches because Google relies on the most prevalent information from Google merchants and Google My Business (GMB) listings.
As in-store shopping these days has been a challenging task, Google makes it easier to find out which stores offer ways to minimize contact while shopping with labels Curbside, In-store or Delivery. Google aims to connect shoppers with these labels in a way that also emphasizes safety.
If you’re worried that an item you need urgently will run out of stock when you get to the store, Google notes that you can simply call and speak to someone at the store to confirm inventory. In addition, there’s also a direct link to navigation in Maps, which will help users to get to the store fast if they’re in a rush.
If you’re a local business interested in helping shoppers find your store hours, locations, inventory, and pickup options on Google, create or update your Google My Business profile or upload your product feed through Google Merchant Center.
Beyond these new shopping features, Google has been launching other shopping features as well, especially to support small businesses, because they have faced more difficulties due to the pandemic. In July, Google’s Area 120 research and development lab launched a video shopping platform, Shoploop for locating, reviewing and buying products. The search engine company also let retailers sell through its Buy on Google checkout platform with 0% commission fee and integrated PayPal and Shopify to facilitate payments.
Other big tech companies, including Builder.ai, eBay, Venmo, Lowe’s, Pinterest and Facebook, have also stepped up with new tools or funding to support small businesses during this health crisis.