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Google to double down efforts to help COVID-19 hit small businesses

The tech giant has introduced a host of features to enable small businesses to recover, and use digital as a means to grow.

"Around 35 per cent of MSMEs, and 37 per cent of self-employed individuals have begun closing their businesses," said an All India Manufacturers' Organisation (AIMO) survey published in Moneycontrol.com on June 2, 2020.

It's an indication of how severe the Coronavirus pandemic, and the subsequent lockdown have been on the MSMEs. While several parts of the country have emerged out of the lockdown, these businesses are still struggling to recover.

Google, in a press release, states, "... To make it easier for the small businesses to discover all the Google resources," it has launched Grow with Google Small Business hub in India. It is a single destination for small businesses to get access to all the products and tools they need to go digital, maintain continuity, and get access to helpful resources, like quick help videos, support pages to learn digital skills.

This move is part of the tech giant's ongoing efforts to support small businesses in India impacted due to the pandemic. Google also said in the release, "... Announced a host of new helpful products and initiatives for small businesses to help them to recover and rebuild in this new environment by going digital."

The new range of features and functionalities across products include:

National roll-out of ‘Nearby Stores’ Spot on Google Pay: Local businesses get discovered by customers in their vicinity. The feature, introduced in May, is expanding across India. Merchant establishments can also indicate business hours, whether social distancing measures are in place, and the essential goods presently in stock.

Merchant loans on Google Pay for Business: Over three million merchants are now using Google Pay for Business app to accept and make payments digitally. Google Pay is also working to partner financial institutions to surface their loan offerings for merchants, which can be availed right within Google Pay for Business app, something that is especially pertinent in these uncertain times. This offering will be made live soon.

Stand out on Google Maps, for free: A new offering called promoted pins on Google Maps will help businesses stand out during these moments by displaying a prominent, square-shaped pin. Business owners can also highlight specific services such as pickup and delivery, or other unique offerings to make shopping convenient.

Until the end of September 2020, businesses will not have to pay for any clicks, calls, or sales resulting from promoted pins.

Free remote working and collaboration tools with G Suite essentials: Businesses of all sizes can now get Google’s premium video meetings service Meet for free. And with G Suite essentials, not only do small businesses get pro video conferencing service, but Google will also offer professional-grade versions of Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides available for free till September 30.

Shalini Girish, director, India, Google Customer Solutions, said, "The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns have accelerated the need for many more businesses, especially small businesses, to adopt technology and get online to minimise the disruption and recover.”

"... We will be doubling down on this effort to help businesses across all parts of India to unlock the full value of going digital by helping them connect with more customers online and offline,” she added.