Google Maps: Optimizing Routing, Delivery & Pickup
Synopsis: COVID-19 has changed many aspects of our society. Businesses now need to adapt to both a shifting marketplace and evolved consumer expectations. With more and more customer reliance on the internet, having digital reach and location information is more important than ever.
AppGeo is using our expertise in GIS to analyze and improve how we use Google Maps Platform to yield the best consumer results. This webinar (recorded on March 5th, 2021) brings together Tim Garcia from Google Maps Platform, and Aaron Doucett, Sales Engineer and GIS analyst from AppGeo to discuss the challenges and potential facing retailers in our increasingly digital age.
The Changing Marketplace
Garcia: “Based on some external research we found that 60% of consumers have changed their shopping habits and 80% intend to adopt new shopping behaviors post pandemic. So now we have made it this far in the environment we are in today with COVID and seen some light at the end of the tunnel, we know that consumers are expecting businesses to adapt. Especially the ones that are already established… Those technologies can come in the form of payment options, curbside pickup, predicting arrival times, on-demand delivery, even knowing business hours of a store or merchant, which have been very static in nature for the longest time because business hours didn’t really change, but now it’s more dynamic and more essential than it has been.” Shoppers have altered the way they shop during the COVID-19 pandemic and even as the situation surrounding COVID continues to change they expect businesses to keep up. Shopping behavior has changed to heavily focus on three main qualities for a business. The first is convenience; many consumers now research a product’s availability and compare prices and location before making a purchase. The second is value; more than ever consumers want specific information about how a store functions or offers a product or service. Third is availability; with demand for delivery and pickup options growing massively over the pandemic, having multiple ways to access a business is vital.
Doucett: “I wanna take a look at five areas that we at AppGeo have thought about for a long time, even before this new normal stuff started. We are going to walk you through some of the things you can start implementing right now that will really up your game in the delivery and pickup department and even more. Moving on to number 1: Make it easy to find your locations. Now this sounds trivial, but in a world where people tend to follow the path of least resistance, having an easy to find and navigate web presence when it comes to your mapping tools is incredibly important. So when I ask here ‘are you on the map?’ chances are yes, but so is everybody else. They have tens of millions of businesses on Google and we want yours to stand out.” Location data makes a massive difference in attracting consumers to your business. In an increasingly online marketplace having an easy and fast customer experience is necessary to set you apart from the competition. However, while most businesses are now online, that doesn’t mean they are getting the most out of their online presence. Using location data allows for a business to provide more detailed and user-specific information that brings customers in and rewards their research. Additionally, such an experience, that uses location data to tailor the interaction, is something that consumers have come to expect as standard.
Finding Nearby Locations
The first strategy is to make it easy to find nearby locations. Obviously, nearby is relative so the key is to start with the user’s location. By starting with their location you can accelerate the process of shopping, directing them to the nearest store or setting an appointment for a convenient time. Furthermore, this location helps your store keep their hours and business information more accurate and relevant for each given consumer. By getting store specific information you can help customers filter to go to the location that can best fulfill their needs. Using APIs such as autocomplete, distance matrix, directions, and dynamic maps can help create a branded experience and simplify the process further.
Buy Online, Pickup in Store
The second strategy is to streamline buying online for in-person pickup. This method of purchase has been the fastest growing aspect of the e-commerce market, even before COVID-19. Customer expectations have been set for fast delivery and low shipping fees which can make it difficult for small businesses to compete on larger economic scales. However, by leveraging geography, small businesses can provide a satisfactory customer experience of online shopping, coupled with the time and cost savings of same day pickup. Including autocomplete functions, a way to validate the specific location they’ve bought from, predicting customer time of arrival via directions API, and making store level inventory data visible are all ways to improve the customer experience with online shopping and pickup.
Keep the Customer (and drivers) Satisfied
Ensuring your products are delivered in a timely manner is important. What is equally important is communicating that time of arrival accurately and reliably to both your customer and your own employees. By using geocoding and Google powered routing you can minimize delivery errors, provide streetview to reduce confusion, and use real-time delivery tracking to keep your customers happy and your drivers on the road. AppGeo has extensive experience with developing routing technologies, having created two solutions within the past year: Bringfood and Routinize.
Simplify your Dispatch Processes
By using better data from Google maps you can save money and time, while keeping your employees safe. When your dispatchers are connected to the data in real time they can make more meaningful decisions, guiding your drivers through changing conditions and tracking performance more accurately.
Turn your Data into Insights with Maps + Cloud
While getting quality data is an important step in routing, making sense of it is essential. Using the Google Maps Platform provides not only a massive amount of data, but also the tools to analyze it. With scalable storage, machine learning, and more, Google Maps Platform is an invaluable resource for businesses who could never access this level of analysis on their own.