There is no way around digitalisation in retail – not even for brick-and-mortar retailers. One essential part of digitalisation is the digital visibility of a company. This topic plays a central role already in the very beginning of the customer journey: Once the buying impulse sets in, consumers begin their search for information on products and suppliers. A suitable means for this is search engines, which facilitate the search for information and bundle relevant results concisely. Thanks to complex algorithms, appropriate results appear in a list after a key word has been entered. Therefore, companies should make it their goal to have their online presence (website and online shop) be placed on the top of this list, ensuring the best possible digital visibility. The market leader among search engines is Google. With a worldwide market share of 80 to almost 90 percent (depending on end device) , Google is the most important search engine and therefore crucial for the digital visibility of companies.
There are three types of search results:
Especially for brick-and-mortar retailers, manufacturers, and service providers with direct customer contact, the Google My Business directory is a good option to stand out from the competition in the digital world. Local search results are recognised via IP address or location services, and companies offering corresponding services or products appear in the search result list.
This service is beneficial for customers because all relevant information on each listed company is visible at a glance due to the uniform layout:
An entry in Google My Business has relevant benefits for companies as well: In addition to better digital visibility and the option to be directly accessible to potential customers, the backend of Google My Business provides business owners with various information on potential customers. There, one can find statistics on how users interact with the entry, which keywords are connected to the company, and how long customers spend on average in the store. This information can in turn be used by companies to improve their digital presence and be found easier in the framework of search engine optimisation. From user behaviour and customer reviews, a business can draw conclusions about how it performs online. Retailers who enter their products into the backend can also appear in the result list of a targeted product search and thus increase the likelihood of a visit.
Once the entry has been created, it should be filled with additional information to give potential customers a comprehensive first impression. Having a well-kept entry with positive customer reviews has a positive effect on the search algorithm, leading to a higher listing of the company in the search result list. Retailers should therefore see the Google My Business entry as a digital business card that shows customers the way into their shop. Also, in terms of the omni-channel strategy it might be a good idea to ask satisfied customers in the store for a positive online review.
About the author:
From 2019 to 2022, Svenya Scholl has been a project consultant with Mittelstand 4.0-Kompetenzzentrum Handel, an SME competence centre funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, at the IFH Köln. There she works on topics related to the online visibility of retail companies. The focus is on small and medium-sized businesses in particular with questions related to social media and SEO aspects. She studied social sciences at the Philipps-University of Marburg as well as market and media research at Cologne University of Applied Sciences.