Google is now letting businesses list local product availability on Google Place Pages. This way, when customers search for local businesses and look at the pages, they can make better decisions before traveling to the business or even calling, to determine if they have what they want.
Of course, consumers may still need to call to verify that the listing is accurate before they drive there, but depending on how consistent the accuracy is, that need may be eliminated in the future.
"When you provide Google with local product availability data, your Google Place Page will now automatically include a new section, 'Popular products available at this store', featuring five popular products along with price and local availability," explains Google Product Search Senior Program Manager Paul Lee. "For shoppers unfamiliar with your business, this section shows the types of products available in your store."
"If shoppers are looking for a specific item, they can click 'Search within this store' to search your product inventory to see if a particular item is in stock nearby," he adds.
The service is free, but it's currently only available in the U.S.
In some ways, Google Place Pages may be getting more valuable for small, local businesses than their own websites. Google's local results are often the first place people go when they're looking for something locally. With Google Maps, it's simply easier to find the businesses you're looking for by location.
The more information businesses are able to convey to customers on these pages, the better chance they have of getting a customer's business. While this may not bode as well for the web-only e-commerce business offering the same products, it's of great value to the brick and mortar.