Google states that people around the world are looking for help in this pandemic and global search interest in “how to help small businesses” reaching an all-time high in March 2020, increasing more than 700 percent since February. According to a newly released report by the Connected Commerce Council, nearly one in three small business owners said that without digital tools, they would have had to close all or parts of their business. In this perspective, Google is releasing a series of updates to help local businesses to adapt to the COVID-19. With these new sets of features, Google will allow small businesses to support themselves, including gift card sales, fundraising, or marketing their virtual services.
To help local businesses share how their communities can support them during COVID-19, Google allows business owners to add donation and gift card links to business profiles, through Google partnerships with PayPal and GoFundMe for donations and Square, Toast, Clover and Vagaro for gift cards. Support links are initially available in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand and are now expanding to 18 additional countries, including Japan, Spain, and Italy.
Another update aims to address the virtual services since the pandemic is impacting in-person businesses. Restaurants have turned themselves into virtual kitchens in-person activities such as fitness, yoga studios have begun streaming classes online. On the updates of Google, merchants who are verified on Google My Business will soon be able to add attributes like “online classes,” “online appointments,” or “online estimates” to their Business Profiles and in the coming weeks, it’ll be visible on merchants’ Business Profiles in Google Search and Google Maps.
In addition to this, Google is expanding its Reserve with Google appointment-setting program. “We’re expanding Reserve with Google to help merchants offer easy appointment bookings for online services so customers can quickly find available times, book a slot, and add it to their Google Calendar—all directly from a merchant’s Business Profile. Millions of people have already booked in-person appointments with salons, restaurants, and other businesses thanks to integrations from over 100 Reserve with Google partners,” Google says. And Google is now expanding this to include bookings for online services, starting with partners like Booksy, Regis, WellnessLiving, and Zooty as well.
Google’s new updates for small business is neat and necessary for the sake of the economy in this environment where economists project that more than 100,000 small businesses in the U.S. have closed permanently since the pandemic escalated in March.
Google’s commitment includes:
- $250 million in ad grants to help the World Health Organization (WHO) and more than 100 government agencies globally provide critical information on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other measures to help local communities. This is an increase from our initial $25 million announced last month. In addition, we’re providing $20 million in ad grants to community financial institutions and NGOs specifically to run public service announcements on relief funds and other resources for SMBs.
- A $200 million investment fund that will support NGOs and financial institutions around the world to help provide small businesses with access to capital. As one example, we’re working with the Opportunity Finance Network in the U.S. to help fill gaps in financing for people and communities underserved by mainstream financial institutions. This is in addition to the $15 million in cash grants Google.org is already providing to nonprofits to help bridge these gaps for SMBs.
- $340 million in Google Ads credits available to all SMBs with active accounts over the past year. Credit notifications will appear in their Google Ads accounts and can be used at any point until the end of 2020 across our advertising platforms. We hope it will help to alleviate some of the cost of staying in touch with their customers.
- A pool of $20 million in Google Cloud credits for academic institutions and researchers to leverage our computing capabilities and infrastructure as they study potential therapies and vaccines, track critical data, and identify new ways to combat COVID-19. Learn how to apply for credits on the Google for Education site.
- Direct financial support and expertise to help increase the production capacity for personal protective equipment (PPE) and lifesaving medical devices. We’re working with our longtime supplier and partner Magid Glove & Safety, with the goal of ramping up production of 2-3 million face masks in the coming weeks that will be provided to the CDC Foundation. Additionally, employees from across Alphabet, including Google, Verily and X, are bringing engineering, supply chain and healthcare expertise to facilitate increased production of ventilators, working with equipment manufacturers, distributors and the government in this effort.
In addition to these commitments, Google also increased the gift match Google offers every employee annually to $10,000 from $7,500. That means our employees can now give $20,000 to organizations in their communities, in addition to the $50 million Google.org has already donated. Together, They’ll continue to help our communities—including our businesses, educators, researchers, and nonprofits—to navigate the challenges ahead.