The ability to buy without setting foot in a store was once the primary domain of fast food chains and drug stores. But as the retail world grapples with a fraught adaptation to life under the COVID-19 threat, such measures have become more commonplace across a wider variety of retail.
And so, on Monday, Google introduced a change to its local inventory ads to address the trend. The tech giant said that it’s rolling out a new badge that indicates whether retailers offer curbside pickup for specific products.
The tech giant casts the move as a way of helping stores promote their efforts to give shoppers a safer, contactless fulfillment option amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Curbside pickup is becoming a hallmark of retail life under the coronavirus pandemic for stores of all kinds — particularly as e-commerce labors under the weight of increased activity by homebound consumers.
“Searches for ‘in-stock’ grew more than 70 percent globally from the week of March 28 to April 4, as consumers sought to avoid e-commerce shipping delays,” Google wrote in its blog.
Online fulfillment will eventually work out the kinks. But by then, consumers may grow accustomed to widespread availability of curbside pickup, setting up an expectation that outlasts the health crisis. By then, Google could move the feature out of beta to become a more permanent, global offering.
As it is, the company is limiting the badge to regions where local inventory ads have launched, namely Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S.
Otherwise, Google added, retailers can still let shoppers know if they offer curbside pickup, or regular pickup and delivery, by editing the business profile details that appear in Search and Google Maps.