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Google seeks to be one-stop app, embedding ordering capability

The newest update for Google Maps may bring a significant boon to small restaurants and mobile ordering consumers through the inclusion of a “place an order” button in the application, letting users order food from a restaurant directly through the navigation application.

If a restaurant is compatible with a third-party food ordering app, such as GrubHub or Seamless, users can place an order from the restaurant’s page on Google Maps. The new feature could be a boon to small businesses who cannot afford to build their own mobile apps.

“Tapping third-party online ordering systems and apps is a smart strategy for both big and small restaurant chains,” said David Naumann, vice president at Boston Retail Partners. “Once a restaurant is set-up with one of the major online delivery services like GrubHub or EatStreet, the online ordering feature will be an easy addition to their Google My Business profile.”

A fighting chance
When Google Maps users who have updated the app to the latest version tap on a local restaurant, they may see a new option on its Google page in addition to the standard buttons such as menu and Web site.

Now, there will be a new option labeled “Place an order.”

Tapping this allows consumers to make delivery order through a third-party delivery app such as GrubHub or EatStreet without leaving Google Maps.

This feature’s availability is limited by geography – some users may see it while others will not.

The new feature represents further integration between Google’s proprietary apps and more specified third-party apps, such as the feature that lets users call an Uber from Google Maps.

Allowing consumers to place an order through Google Maps also provides a huge boost to small businesses, which miss out on the fertile world of mobile marketing and mobile ordering by virtue of not having their own mobile resources to work with.

“The new ‘Place an order’ option in the business details on Google Maps is an enormous benefit to smaller restaurants that can’t afford to develop their own custom app for mobile ordering,” Mr. Naumann said. “The time and expense to develop a mobile app can be overwhelming for small business and turn-key apps or features from third-party companies like Google help them compete more effectively with larger chains.

“Google maps – with relevant information and quick links to store hours, location, website and now online ordering – is a great way to increase the exposure and visibility of all businesses, regardless of size.”

Mobile ordering
As mobile ordering continues to grow as a channel for purchasing food, more and more brands are developing their own apps, adding mobile payments and ordering to their social channels and even debuting chatbots that allow consumers to order through them, such as the one created by Domino’s (see story).

But while big brand such as Domino’s have the money to afford to bring their mobile ordering capabilities to as many places as possible, smaller restaurants are often left in the dust without a way to reliably get their mobile delivery service in front of as many consumers as they can.

Having the ability to sell delivery orders directly through an app as popular and ubiquitous as Google Maps means that smaller restaurants without big mobile budgets have another way to compete.

“Takeout and delivery is more than $200 billion worth of food in the U.S. and $11 billion of which is from online delivery, according to Morgan Stanley Research,” said Naumann. “Online ordering has become an expected feature for customers and restaurant operators need to offer this added convenience.

“It is also imperative that this feature is mobile friendly, as most Internet usages is now navigated on a smartphone or table.”