has introduced a series of new mobile marketing services for retailers, initially in the US only.
In December, the search engine giant sent out window stickers containing 2D barcodes to the 100,000 local businesses that have been the most sought out and researched on Google.com and Google Maps. The businesses have been grouped together as Favorite Places on Google and are located in 9,000 towns and cities across the US.
Each of the window stickers has a unique QR barcode that can be scanned with any of hundreds of different mobile phones. When a consumers snaps a picture of the barcode with their mobile phone, they are automatically directed to the business' Place Page on Google Maps where they can find customer reviews, get a coupon if the business is offering one or star a business as a place they want to remember for the future.
Although consumers can access reviews from their phone, they can't currently leave a review using their mobile. But, says Google, that functionality will be added soon. Google also says that it plans to periodically send out new waves of window decals to qualifying businesses.
A video produced by Google to publicise the new system shows how the system works:
Businesses wishing to offer consumers a coupon can do so using Google's Local Business Center service and, when a business adds a new coupon to its listing in the Local Business Center, by default it is now available to view on a mobile device.
Google has also made it easier to find places which are 'near me now'. The service works with iPhone and Android browsers and is aimed at addressing two problems. First, says Google, we wanted to make it fast and easy to find out more about a place in your immediate vicinity, whether you're standing right in front of a business or if it's just a short walk away. Second, we wanted to make searching for popular categories of nearby places really simple.
"Imagine that you emerge from the subway station and you want to grab a coffee, but you don't see a coffee shop around you. You can simply search for all nearby coffee shops by using 'Near me now'," the company explains. Users can also access reviews before they go inside and can also access an 'explore right here' option.
Again, Google has produced a video that explains how the service works:
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