This week, learn about several Google updates due to COVID-19; Yelp’s new notices on business profiles; DoorDash’s #openfordelivery campaign; Google’s advice for retailers; help from Nextdoor to keep businesses afloat; advice from TripAdvisor on transitioning your restaurant; and a new study of food ordering habits from MFour.
Google rolls out COVID-19 Posts, temporary closure flag, more prominent attributes, Posts for chains
Google My Business released several updates last week related to COVID-19. The first was a new COVID-19 Post type, which appeared in the GMB dashboard on Tuesday. On Wednesday -- as announced early on in the crisis by Google CEO Sundar Pichai -- the GMB dashboard added a flag for marking businesses temporarily closed. The flag also makes it easier for businesses to reopen if Google incorrectly marks them closed, which has happened in some cases.
On Thursday evening, Google announced two more important updates in an email to partners. First, the limitation that prevented partners from using the Google My Business API to create Google Posts for chains -- accounts that have 10 or more locations or that contain businesses known by Google to be multi-location brands -- was temporarily lifted, but only to allow Posts relevant to COVID-19. The new COVID-19 Post type that launched in the dashboard on Tuesday is not, however, yet supported in the API.
The second update announced on Thursday involves more prominent treatment of attributes relevant to restaurant services such as pickup, delivery, and dine-in. These three items will be more visible in GMB profiles with marks indicating “yes” or “no” for each, as shown below. Google also reported that more attributes will be released in the coming weeks so that retail stores can better highlight offerings related to COVID-19.
Newly prominent attributes in GMB restaurant profiles
Yelp adds editable COVID-19 notice to profiles
On Thursday, Yelp added a notice to all public profiles, with the exception of those marked temporarily closed or using special hours to indicate reduced availability. The notice reads, “COVID-19 Advisory: Business operations may be affected. Due to ongoing precautionary measures, please contact the business directly for updated hours and availability.” Businesses who have claimed their Yelp profiles may log in and edit the message so that it better reflects their individual circumstances.
Yelp has made several other updates to its site and mobile app, including a new “You can always order in” message that highlights the availability of restaurant delivery.
The Yelp app’s home screen
#Openfordelivery campaign helps restaurants get the word out
DoorDash has started a new social campaign to promote that restaurants are still available for delivery orders -- a recurring theme in this week’s news updates. The #openfordelivery campaign, whose website links, not only to DoorDash and its subsidiary Caviar, but also to competitors Uber Eats, Postmates, Grubhub, Skip the Dishes, and Foodora, suggests that consumers make delivery orders to help support America’s 15.6 million restaurant workers, as well as purchasing gift cards and sharing the hashtag #openfordelivery on social media.
Google offers advice for retailers to help with coronavirus response
Amy Eberhard, Global Head of Retail and Shopping Ads at Google, has a new post on Think with Google that shares tips to help retailers with their coronavirus response strategy. The main points emphasized by Eberhard: stay informed, be current and transparent, and adjust in real time. Eberhard recommends using Google Trends -- which is compiling a great number of stats on coronavirus -- and Google Alerts to track consumer sentiment and search habits. She suggests that information provided to consumers in Google My Business profiles, ads, and elsewhere should include precautions businesses are taking to protect consumer safety.
Nextdoor adds gift cards, takeout and delivery options, GoFundMe campaigns
An email sent to Nextdoor users on March 25 from CEO Sarah Friar outlines new features the social network has added to help local businesses stay afloat during the pandemic. In partnership with Square, Nextdoor is adding gift card links to business profiles and helping businesses to promote their availability to local Nextdoor communities. Restaurants and retailers can now add takeout and delivery options to Nextdoor profiles. Profiles also have a Story section where Friar recommends that businesses add links to GoFundMe campaigns.
Tips from TripAdvisor for transitioning to takeout and delivery
TripAdvisor has some advice to help restaurants convert quickly and successfully to takeout and delivery only. The site recommends modifying operations in the kitchen and the front of the house; adapting menus to focus on items that will do well in takeout packaging; implementing third-party delivery services, many of whom are now offering free delivery; making necessary changes to point of sale, order tracking, and communications technology; establishing contact-free delivery practices; helping to stock customer’s freezers with pre-made meals; and communicating these changes clearly to customers through social media, email, and online listings.
New study from MFour shows consumer habits changing
Research firm MFour has released new statistics showing recent changes in consumer behavior, on the heels of similar studies from Yelp, Foursquare, and others. On March 23 and 24, MFour surveyed consumers who use food and grocery delivery apps including Uber Eats, DoorDash, Postmates, Amazon, Walmart, and Instacart. Of those surveyed, 30% said they had downloaded a delivery app within the last 30 days, and 47% of those new users said they had done so because of COVID-19. Users of grocery apps indicated they are increasing app usage by 53% due to COVID-19. Some 35% of consumers have increased their spending on household goods via delivery apps, and 79% said they planned to continue delivery app usage even after COVID-19 passes.