If you were to name one event that reshaped retail in the past few years, what would it be? For many, Amazon purchasing Whole Foods comes to mind. This powerhouse alliance of online and brick-and-mortar shopping outlets shed a bright light on the new reality of retail. A physical store is no longer enough – all retailers, no matter how small, need to set themselves up online to succeed on the long run.
The number of shoppers who interact digitally with their primary grocery store went from 56% in 2017 to 63% in 2018, and that trend is sure to grow.
The task sounds daunting, but as our Sales Director likes to say “You can eat an elephant if you cut it up”. In the next series of posts, we will focus on key components of your online presence: establishing digital storefronts and interacting with your customers through social media. First up – your digital storefront on Google. Setting up and updating your Google Business profile is an entirely free service. While it sounds daunting, it truly does not take up more than an hour or two, and reaps huge benefits. Here we go!
Google Business, your Digital storefront
In real life, you make sure your storefront is clean and professional, with easy-to-see key information on your windows, such as key items you sell, hours, promotions, etc. Your online presence should be no different.
Before landing on your website, shoppers are likely to head to Google to find your business. Your Google Business profile appears automatically on the right of search results linked to your business’ name, as seen below. This “ID Card” is automatically created for any business by Google. What’s the point? Google wants its users to find the information they need as quickly and efficiently as possible. Rather than force users to root through the business’ website (if they have one!), Google automatically pulls basic information on a business in this little ID card.
44% of local retailers have not claimed and updated their information on Google Business – this could mean inaccurate phone numbers, store hours, and confused shoppers. Having an updated profile also offers a first good impression to your potential customers. What’s more, nearly half of users searching for information on Google never click into a website – they simply pull from what is visible in the top Google Business information.
How to claim your profile:
If your business already exists on Google, you have to “Claim your business” in order to gain access to it. This step takes a few days, as Google will mail your verification code via snail mail straight to your business address. If you’re just opening, you may have to create your business from scratch on Google. Check out the video below for more information.
Confused? Not to worry! If you’re a Musco Food customer, just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and our marketing department will help you out.
What to update and maintain on your profile:
Once you’ve claimed your page, here are the key elements to update and maintain:
Phone and Hours: as straightforward as it gets. Make sure to keep the Hours updated during the Holidays!
Photos: The perfect opportunity to showcase your beautiful store and offerings! Any last generation phone will do – pick a sunny day, and take a few photos of the best your store has to offer. Full shelves, a smiling employee handing out cheese to sample, delicious sandwiches… Anything that might entice a new visitor to stop by.
Products: This new feature allows you to showcase the best your store has to offer – it’s also perfect for seasonal items! Create categories (Sandwiches, Cold Cuts, Desserts…) and upload products in each of them. A picture is worth a thousand words.
Description: How did your store start? What do you offer, and what do you stand for? This is a great opportunity to build romance around your business.
Questions and Answers: though this feature isn’t used that much, it’s good to keep an eye on it. Potential shoppers can ask open questions about your business, such as “Does this business deliver?”, “Do they have gluten free products”? Both questions and answers are public.
Reviews: Perhaps the most important feature of Google Business, where shoppers leave a 5-star based rating of your establishment. 88% of shoppers have read reviews to determine the quality of a local business – and 72% of them say positive reviews make them trust a local business more than they may have otherwise!
Answering all reviews left by customers proves your commitment to customer service, and leaves shoppers with a positive view of your business. Answering negative reviews is just as important if not more, as it gives you the chance to turn around a negative experience in your store, and shows to anyone browsing your reviews that you genuinely care.
See below two great examples:
Posts: Your profile also allows you to post regular updates on new products, blog articles, or promotional circulars (more than half of shoppers who interact with brands online are looking for their weekly circulars!). Anything you post here can be linked back to your website – a great way to get traffic onto your ecommerce store or your product catalog. Posting articles keeps your profile fresh, leaves a good impression to potential customers, and bumps up your ranking in Google (more to come on that subject below!)
See a few of examples from our profile below.
To conclude …
As a summary, setting up your Google Business account properly takes a little time, but reaps big rewards. Just like you want your physical storefront to be clean, organized and appealing, the same goes for your digital ones! The more you feed your Google Business profile, the higher you will rank in google when potential shoppers look for your business, or a business such as yours. For example: you own a small retailer in your town, and have filled in all of the information we’ve described above. When a consumer types in google “Groceries + your town name”, your business will pop up higher than others in the results.
Although you may want to update it with a few pieces of info on a regular basis (circular, holiday times…), it is mostly hands-off, and does not require the same commitment as a Facebook or Instagram page. We will talk about those channels in our next posts, stay tuned!