7 May, 2020

How can small businesses start delivering using Google Maps?

As a local business operating in the midst of a pandemic, you need to be able to adapt and serve customers where they are - which is at home. 

Google Maps Platform offers many ways for your business to continue supporting customers who want goods or services delivered. That means your customers can continue to focus on keeping themselves and their family safe and healthy, and you can focus on keeping your business running and profitable. 

So, how can your business get started using Google Maps for deliveries? 

Let’s use your local coffee shop as an example - their customers need their morning caffeine fix, but are unwilling to visit the coffee shop due to health concerns. This means the coffee shop  needs to pivot their business model and start delivering coffees to customers. The coffee shop has an eCommerce system built into their website to take coffee orders and process payments - but they have no prior system set up for delivery. 

Once the shop receives a certain amount of orders, they need to understand where their customers are and what the most efficient delivery route is so that their coffee won't get cold. 

Verify the customer’s address

Having an accurate address is the first step to delivering the morning rush of coffees. By integrating the Places Autocomplete API into your online checkout process, you can ensure a faster check out experience for the user with the API’s ‘type-ahead’ capability as well as a validated address for the delivery driver.

Once the delivery address has been validated, the Geocoding API can be used to convert the address into the latitude and longitude as a marker on a map. This API provides quick visual feedback with the ability to reposition the pin and fine-tune the drop-off locations for the deliveries. 

If the customer is going for a morning walk and wants their coffee delivered to a park, you can now use Google Maps Plus Codes to send your driver’s accurate delivery information to a position on a map, rather than relying on an address.

Select the fastest route for your driver

You now have five coffee orders ready to go and it’s time to deliver. How do you optimise your driver’s delivery route to make sure the coffee is not in transit for too long? 

The Directions API provides turn-by-turn directions with real-time traffic using the traffic_model parameter. This capability can also optimise the order of waypoints to deliver the five coffees in the shortest time. Driver’s will be made aware of any road closures, dead ends or heavy traffic that may lengthen the delivery time.

Tip - The driver can use the Street View Image API to display images of the drop off location so they know exactly what the entrance looks like before they arrive, saving time at the drop-off. 

Provide the customer with an ETA

Customers want to know exactly how long they have to wait until they get their order. 

The Distance Matrix API computes an accurate and up-to-date journey between the coffee shop and the customer’s house. The Maps JavaScript API enables businesses to then show the driver’s journey on a simple delivery tracker in real-time, saving calls to your cafe from coffee-derived customers checking on their delivery progress. 

Besides improving the user-experience, ETAs can also help you efficiently manage your drivers. The Distance Matrix API allows you to choose the closest driver to complete the pickup and delivery. This ensures the fastest possible order turnaround time with shorter drive times so your drivers can deliver more coffee orders per day. 

How do I set this all up? 

Our team is happy to help you get started, we know Google Maps from back-to-front. Get in touch with us to speak with a member of the team who can help set up your Google Maps project. 

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