Since Google launched Street View a couple of years ago, we all have the possibility to digitally stroll the streets of cities all over the world. Google has recently begun extending this service by adding Google Business Photos to Street View. Google Business Photos allow for 360° previews in shops, restaurants and other businesses. This literary opens doors. Street View made it possible to take a close look at the city’s public space, but now we can even wander around in the private atmosphere of participating shops. Isn’t that exciting?
This is how it works. Shop owners let a selected Google photographer from their own city take pictures from all angles of their shop. With the use of Street View technology, these pictures are made into 360° interactive tours of businesses that are shared on Google Maps and on Google search results. For businesses this offers a great chance to give people a preview in their store. “Customers will be able to truly experience your business — just like being there!” explains Google. This has tremendous advantages. Not only will these images appear on Google searches, Google Maps, and Google+ Local, but you can easily embed Street View on your own website and social media pages. For now this service is only available in the States, as Google works with a network of local trusted photographers. But the service will be extended sooner or later.
In terms of exploring cities online, this in an interesting project. In the near future we can enter shops in cities on the other side of the world and take a look around. This gives an additional insight into urban culture and opens up new shopping experiences. Customers can check out a shop before they decide to go. This means that making a good presence online will be important for getting clients to you business. Before booking a hotel online, I always walk around the block using Google Street View, just to see how the neighborhood looks, and where to grab the first beer. Perhaps this takes away the surprise a bit when you finally arrive on the spot, but it’s fun. People will also do this inside shops, restaurants, bars, gyms and clubs from now on, just to find out if the place fits with their expectations.
When Google will push this service it will become an important new way to attract customers. Google is still the main search engine in the world. They make up what is shown first when you search your business name. As these interactive tours are created and hosted in a Google context, you can imagine that Google will push them to the top of the search results. That is also the business model behind this service. Will this also change the future of retail? Google can potentially change the experience of the web shop with this network. When clients are making an online 360° tour in a shop, the next step is to let them interact with the products and offer options to immediately buy stuff. The online and offline shop will merge into one.