Mobile technology

Google Maps gives small Indian retailers a mobile face

Viraj Desai

Google is offering small Indian traders technology to enable them to set up virtual stores through Indoor Google Maps and allow consumers to search online for products in their physical stores. Each map will also give exact directions to the physical store. 

Shyam Sehgal, who owns a garment shop in Chandni Chowk, one of Delhi's crowded market areas, has benefited from Google’s map service. 

“Although the majority of our customers are repeat customers, Indoor Google Maps has put us on Google search when customers are looking for garment shops in Chandi Chowk,” said Sehgal.

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Sehgal says the number of customers in his store may not have increased drastically, but enquiries have. 

Indoor Google Maps helps firms set up virtual stores, facilitating customer searches for products that are available in physical stores. Not only does the service help customers find shops more easily, it is likely to help Google to tap into more small and new traders who are looking to reach more customers through technology.

Suren Ruhela, director and product manager at India Google Maps, said: “Small businesses have to move beyond just setting up a website and hoping shoppers will walk in, which is passé.” 

Another shop owner who sells inverter batteries in a busy market area of Bangalore also uses the Google service. He said the tool has helped his customers locate his store easily through their phone.  

With its population of more than a billion and hundreds of millions of people having access to mobile phones, India is a prime location for Google to target small businesses seeking to grow.

Indoor Maps promises not only to enhance the customer experience, but also to give retailers an insight into customers’ shopping habits.