It’s not contradictory to be an American multinational technology company and be interested in local communication. The numerous Google functions that enable shops to optimize their local presence on the internet is a proof: the Mountain View based company is very interested in local communication and has perfectly understood the importance for points of sale. Candice Malini, Retail Industry Manager for Google, explains.
To what extent is the local dimension important for Google?
For us, the local dimension is simply the most important in order to generate traffic in physical shops. Our conviction is that the physical shop is king and will remain king: e-commerce is a good tool and works well, but won’t exceed 10% of sales. This is why we have developed many solutions in order to attract potential buyers into the stores.
Our conviction is also linked to the new uses created by smartphones! 60% of Europeans owns smartphones. This gives them a real 6th sense: always connected, customers are doing a lot more research about products before visiting the physical shops. This is a real opportunity for points of sale since the smartphone allows, when the customer is ok with it, to communicate its position and use its geolocation to send personalized messages.
The local and smartphones are closely linked…
We always think “mobile first” when we launch our products: we prioritize development of the mobile display before the one on computer screens. Numbers don’t lie:
- On average Europeans look at their smartphones 150 times a day.
- Since September 2015 there are more Google queries on smartphones than on PC’s.
- 1/3 of the queries concern a local intention (checking the availability of a product in a shop, contacting the point of sale, using the GPS to get there…).
These are very strong and exponential trends!
Read more: 1/3 of mobile requests driven by local interest.
What is the impact on customer’s habits?
Customers prepare their visit on internet, therefore go less frequently in the shops; they don’t need to go to “have a look and spot”. But when they do, their purchase intention is strong. Therefore, we carry out a study to know what the customers look at on the net in order to prepare their visit, to see what interests them the most, check the availability of the products and find product details, pictures or comments. They also type the name of a retailer to see where the nearest shop is located. Consequently, retailers must optimise their local presence on internet.
What are the solutions by Google letting retailers contact customers from a local point of view?
I would start by mentioning Google Maps, the local solution par excellence. It has become a real reflex for many customers who are looking for a shop close by! As a consequence, we propose more and more options so that retailers can develop their presence on this service:
- An indoor view, which allows the user to clearly see what the interior of the shop looks like, with professional photographs.
- Indoor Google Maps, which allows users to see the inside plan of shopping centers, supermarkets…
Moreover, we also have our Google search engine, the importance of which is undeniable from a local point of view. Almost all retailers invest in this service that helps to showcase their shops by, for example, programming their special offers in relation to the potential clients’ geolocation.
Learn more: How to optimize store communication zones?
Another product that has been on offer for a year now is the LIA (Local Inventory Ads). It’s a Google Shopping product that has been created to reinforce the web-to-store by identifying when a consumer is looking for a particular product and then displaying a picture, the price and the shop where they can go to buy it on their screen. The same thing exists for the e-merchant, the LIA being a variant for physical shops. Its mission is simple: to attract people in the shops to find a product that they know is guaranteed to be available.
Finally, let’s mention Waze, a community based traffic and navigation app which enables retailers to display their logos on maps to indicate a shop or send advertising messages when the application detects that the user has stopped at a red light near a shop.
Among all these solutions proposed by Google, which are essential?
It’s essential to have a Google Maps account with all your key information. It’s free! It’s important to take time to complete it carefully: full address, opening hours, a link to the website, phone number… We can’t do everything, but to be well positioned on Google Adwords keywords are important… especially as you pay by the click. Next, I think that a local Google Shopping can become a solution for retailers and can be used right away.
What are the next trends for local communication of shops via Google and smartphones?
The technology that is often talked about by retailers are beacons, small connected devices that are installed on the walls of shops, for example. They communicate in Bluetooth with mobiles by displaying a notification, either via the shop application or, in the case of our homemade Eddystone technology, via Google Chrome. It is increasingly being tested by retailers and is going to be further developed, especially since the information displayed on the user’s mobile can be refined according to their profiles, their shopping habits, their previous purchases…. The era of data is full of promise for retailers in terms of local communication as well as for consumers who have accepted the collection of their information.
Image credits : Google.