Google is now able to tell how busy a store or a venue is in real time.
You may remember back in in July 2015 Google adding a new feature to businesses information called “Popular times”. This enabled visitors to plan their visit to a store in advance and avoid long waiting times.
This time Google goes one step further and displays information on how busy a store is…right now.
The information is overlaid onto the existing “popular times” data and shows very clearly if a store is busier or quieter than usual.
With Christmas just around the corner, this new feature is very timely as it will help consumers make more informed decisions about their shopping spree by choosing which store to visit and when if they want to avoid overcrowding.
Let’s have a look at a practical example and do a quick search in Google for one of the most famous department stores in London, Harrods.
Head over to Google and search for Harrods. The real time visit information is located in the knowledge panel under the “popular times” section.
The flashing red bar is the real live data overlaid on top of the usual average popular times. In this example, it is obvious that at the time I am recording this, Harrods is getting a lot more shoppers than usual.
This new real-time visit data is not limited to stores and can have many more practical advantages. Let’s look at another few examples and see how this can affect your day to day life. Let’s search for a local gym called “fitness first” in London angel.
Scrolling down to the live visit data indicates that, Right now, The Gym is quieter in comparison to the average popular times. Since I hate working out in a really busy gym I might go now as opposed to waiting until my usual time.
If you like traveling you know that airports can become extremely crowded around holidays and more specifically during Christmas. You may need to allow extra time to check it if you don’t want to miss your flight. Put your mind at ease and search for the airport you’re flying out from to see if it is busier than usual.
You will also notice that, along with this awesome new feature, Google added what they call “Visit duration” information which indicates how long a typical customer spends in a given location.
Finally, there is now the option for service providers or smaller businesses within a larger store to set their own opening and closing hours.
With the roll out of this new functionality, Google continues to expand its focus on local search results.
Needless to say, they will likely want to monetise such features to businesses, Large or small in the near future transforming the way we do local business as we know in the process.
If you haven’t yet completed or claimed your Google my business listing I suggest you do it now.