Google has updated its Shopping results on Google Search to help consumers find local businesses, and check for services like curbside and in-store pickup, the platform announced on Wednesday.
Users can access the "Nearby" filter under the Shopping tab on Google or add the words "near me" to a search to find local stores. Shoppers can check if items they're seeking match those available in nearby stores, as well as access information on how far away each store is and the store's business hours within Google Maps, per a company blog post.
Shoppers can also see which stores offer curbside or in-store pickup, click to call the store and access a direct link to directions to the store.
Google's decision to modify its shopping tools stems in part from search patterns the platform witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The tech giant saw Google searches for terms like "curbside pickup" and "safe shopping" spike "tenfold" over the past few months, Swati Trehan, product manager of Google Shopping, wrote in a blog post.
As a result, the tech giant made adjustments to make it easier for customers to find businesses that offer certain shopping services, and for businesses to be able to present those services to Google users. To participate, businesses can update their Google My Business profile and upload their product feeds to the company's Google Merchant Center, Trehan's post notes.
The problem of finding products in-store or online isn't unique during the health crisis. Early on during the coronavirus pandemic, major retailers, including Amazon, were plagued by product out-of-stocks.
Beyond the updated search tools, Google has been rolling out other shopping features as well. In July, Google's Area 120 research and development lab debuted Shoploop, a video shopping platform for finding, reviewing and buying items. The company also let merchants sell through its Buy on Google checkout platform without paying commissions and integrated PayPal and Shopify to facilitate payments.
It's no secret that small businesses especially have faced difficulties due to the coronavirus pandemic, and could benefit most from some of Google's updates. Other companies, including Builder.ai, eBay, Venmo, Lowe's and Facebook, have also stepped up with new tools or funding to support small businesses during the health crisis.