Google Maps is an important app this time of the year for both consumers and small businesses. For consumers traveling during the holidays to visit friends and relatives that they don't see often, Maps will, of course, provide turn-by-turn navigation to their destinations. And Google is now adding
some new tools to help small businesses get discovered during the holiday shopping season.
Google says that searches for local businesses hit a record high last year and searches using the key terms "Local" + "near me" are up 350 times over the last 10 years. The company is telling shop owners that Local campaigns
can drive more traffic to businesses that have a physical location such as a restaurant, a retailer, or an auto dealership. In a few weeks, these businesses will be able to have their physical store appear as a location pin on Google Maps and it will appear when a user's travels take them past that location. Such pins are tapped on hundreds of millions of times per week, says Google, and someone using the app to navigate can add that business as a stop along their route with just a few taps.
Besides helping with Local campaigns, Google says that Maps can help with Shopping campaigns
. These promote both online and physical sales by presenting a curated number of items available from a business. Shopping ads direct a consumer to a company's website to purchase an item for delivery. Inventory ads allow consumers to pick up the item they want now, or at a later time, from a physical storefront. Google notes that 45% of global shoppers have used "buy online, pick up in store" to get items from a local retail location. It currently has 12 billion offers connected to physical stores in 12 countries.
While Google's blog post was really meant for retailers, it did give away some of the new features that Google Maps users will see on both Android and the iPhone as the holiday shopping season progresses.