Google Helps Businesses To Go The Digital Way
Owning a beauty salon was a dream come true for Priya, as she believed in making women feel better about themselves. Be it Kylie Jenner’s hairstyle or Deepika’s bridal look, she could do it effortlessly. However, things took a different turn with the lockdown announcement as it demanded the closure of all shops and malls. As the pandemic compelled staying at home and social distancing, Priya realized that her salon would remain closed for a long time and no customers would be coming in.
That is when she decided to give her business a digital presence with the help of Google My Business. To start with, she got her salon listed on Google My Business for free and added all necessary information such as contact details, services offered, business hours and pricing. She also posted some pictures of her salon and the equipment used there to highlight how she follows stringent hygiene measures. Priya knew people would like to keep cash payments to a minimum due to pandemic protocols. So, she downloaded Google Pay for Business to ensure digital payment. She further leveraged the ‘Nearby Stores’ feature on Google Pay to make her business easily discoverable for searchers staying in the vicinity. Now that she is future-ready, her customers are booking appointments and making payments online before availing her services at home or at her salon.
Priya’s narrative should not be unique, though. According to a report by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), India is home to approximately 6.33 crore medium and small businesses which account for 29.7 percent of GDP, and hence, is the backbone of the Indian economy. The impact of the pandemic outbreak has hurt small businesses as they are staring at financial losses due to low demand during multiple lockdowns. This necessitates a digital transformation so that businesses can still operate and stay afloat.
Why Small Businesses Need a Digital Interface
According to RedShift research, 63 percent of Indian small businesses do not have a website; 40 per cent believe that their business is too small to have a website; 19 per cent perceive website creation to be complex and 17 per cent believe website creation to be expensive. However, with the Internet adoption growing at a fast clip – in 2020, India had nearly 700 million Internet users, according to Statista – digitalization can catapult efficiency and innovation across business operations. Here is a quick look at how Web technologies can help small businesses.
Brand building for customer growth
A potential customer’s journey comprises multiple touchpoints before she actually decides to buy. The first touchpoint in that journey is the online discovery of your business. But what happens when your business does not have an impressive web presence? According to Google, if a company does not have a proper website, 45 percent of customers will turn away and look for an alternative. Therefore, a basic business listing online is a must. Adding more information about your products and services as well as contact details can convert casual surfers and searchers into customers.
Ease of transaction
The pandemic crisis has driven customers to remote buying and digital payments. It means one’s brick-and-mortar shop must be able to accept online payments to ensure customer convenience. On the plus side, all transactions get tracked and recorded without any manual intervention so that there is zero error in payments history. One can also save on time and efforts.
Unlike Priya and her staff, a remote workforce has become the new workplace normal, but most small businesses are still struggling to cope with the absence of a physical establishment. Consider a sales lead or a person in charge of finance who requires constant access to crucial data and documents for decision-making. Then there is the admin staff who needs to carry out back-office tasks. Finally, one cannot do away with those ubiquitous meetings without which no business could possibly survive. However, a virtual network of office employees with secure access to crucial data would solve most of these problems. Whether it is budget planning, client presentation or holding a town hall meeting, tracking inventory or procuring it, a virtual office can do everything and more.
How Google Helps Businesses
Small businesses which want to stand tall, need to have a profound presence online. Right from managing its payments, workforce management, advertising to operations, Google has tools that can cater to all your business needs. Here is the list of Google tools which will help your business go digital.
According to Google, if a company does not have a proper website, 45 percent of customers will turn away and look for an alternative.
Google My Business (GMB) listing
Businesses without a digital presence can sign up with Google My Business for a free Google listing. Just like Priya, one can add all relevant business information such as product/service descriptions and contact details besides photos, videos, and posts so that the business becomes discoverable on Google Maps and via search engines. Signing in with Google My Business will also create a free website domain name. Or you can purchase a custom domain. To understand how customers are engaging with their business listings, owners can access Google Insights that gives a detailed report. Let us understand this with an example, suppose we have a bakery shop and we have added all information to get it listed on Google, Google Insights gives a report having details that if a customer has searched your bakery shop through a direct search or a discovery search that is customer searching for a particular cupcake where your shop appeared or branded search where customer searched for a particular brand of cake and your store name came up. Besides these it can give a detailed report on customers actions such as how many of them clicked on your shop website, requested for store directions or have directly called you. Hence, giving a complete understanding how your bakery shop is performing online.
Additionally, Google Pay for Business has recently added a feature called Nearby Stores. As the name suggests, it helps users find neighbourhood stores which are providing essential goods or services. Business owners using Google Pay can provide necessary information such as business hours, availability of essential goods, home delivery options and hygiene measures followed in their stores. Google gathers this information from businesses and displays it in the list of Nearby Stores that helps both users and businesses.
Today it’s important to be present, be relevant and add value.
- Nick Besbeas, former CMO of LinkedIn
Google Pay for Business
The pandemic has compelled minimum physical contact and triggered the use of online or contactless payments. In such times where contactless payments are deemed safe, Google helps businesses to go for contactless payments by encouraging them to download ‘Google Pay’. The facility of cashless payments gives the customers a convenient way of making purchases in a swift, simple and safe manner hence driving customer satisfaction.
There are five major benefits of using Google Pay for Business:
- Payments made by customers reach directly to the owner’s bank accounts with no fees.
- Customers can make payments using phone numbers and QR codes.
- A detailed transaction report showing how much the owners have earned on Google Pay.
- Earn cashback rewards that is directly deposited in the bank account.
- It gives the businesses to receive and accept payments with ease through multiple payment options such as credit or debit cards and multiple bank accounts on a single platform.
Apart from transactions, Google is in talks with financial institutions to offer loans through Google Pay for Business app to support small businesses in India.
Businesses working with a remote workforce will be new normal now. Hence, streamlining of work processes digitally is essential for the overall productivity of the company. Google Workspace is an integration of multiple applications such as email, video conferencing, chats, docs sheets, slides, to-do lists etc for effective communication among team members. Use of Google workspace will help in making fast decisions. One can easily schedule meetings with automatic email invites. With the cloud storage feature, one can store all important documents such as sales agreements, contracts or financial reports. The documents stored in cloud storage can be accessed by remote team members for downloading anytime thus making it easier to collaborate. Company data in the cloud is protected from cyberattacks as it provides protection through multifactor authentication and security keys.
Google Small Business Hub
The government of India’s initiative of going ‘Vocal for Local’ has led Google to come up with a Make Small Strong initiative. In this initiative, Google helps businesses that are small and medium in size by creating short quick help videos that help the business owners to make the most of the digital tools. This initiative is providing free digital skills training to the business owners to equip themselves with the required skill set to bring business online. The skill courses are branched into three:
Digital unlocked: The course contains 90 self-paced video tutorials which offer quality training on a comprehensive set of topics right from building a web presence and driving online growth to reach customers over mobile to email marketing to social media marketing. It also has an extensive toolkit that will help in getting the business online.
Primer App: It is a free educational mobile app that offers quick, bite-sized, jargon free video lessons to help business owners and individuals learn new skills in digital marketing and business. The five-minute lessons cover topics like business planning, management, sales, customer satisfaction, online advertising, analytics, social media that come with actionable next steps where people can start reaching their goals.
Skill shop: To develop digital marketing skills it provides e-learning video courses ranging from Google ads to analytics to ad manager, and while learning gets certifications of the course completed.
Google has partnered with Zoho, a provider of Web-based tools for businesses, and Instamojo, a full-stack digital services platform for MSMEs, to help businesses build websites, create online stores, and manage inventory and shipments all from a single platform. SMBs can create websites by signing up with Zoho inventory and Zoho commerce for free till March 31, 2021, and with Instamojo which is offering a six-month free subscription to its online store solution. It has also partnered with Swiggy, the online food ordering and delivery platform and Dunzo that provides online delivery for food, medicines and groceries to enable businesses to accept online orders and enable delivery. Small businesses with a zero-sign-up fee with Dunzo can avail its 24×7 merchant support for instant registration and can use Swiggy’s ‘Fast Track Onboarding’ to make its business online.