Google Street View has been a revelation in armchair travel, since it’s launch in 2007 the site has enabled millions of people to walk around their neighbourhood or explore the far flung corners of the globe without even getting up from their chair. Now they have extended this service – allowing businesses to use photos to bring their shop or restaurant to life, using the same Street View technology to stitch photos together and provide 360 degree virtual tours of the interior of their premises.
Businesses can use this service to showcase all of the features that their customers love and the tours appear not just on Google searches but on Google Maps, Google + and can even be embedded on the website and social media pages of the company concerned.
“With Business Photos, your customers can walk around, explore, and interact with your business like never before. Customers will be able to truly experience your business – just like being there!” – Google
To get listed, the business owner hires a local official Google photographer to come and take photos of their interior from various angles. At present the service is available in the US and Canada and some areas of the UK and it is expected to be rolled out to the rest of the world on a broader scale within the next few years.
One of the key topics we’ve mentioned often on this blog is the decline of the high street and how a great retail interior design can encourage customers to engage with your brand. In the case of a restaurant or other service providers, using Google Business Photos could be a useful way of tempting people to visit – they could also see which table they want to book and perhaps some of the food they would like to order. With retail designs, it could be trickier – could this ultimately replace the physical shopping experience?
Future technologies may be developed where people can click on items in the tour to make a purchase – would blurring the boundaries between online and offline shopping negate the need for a physical shopping experience or encourage people to come in and experience the real thing? We’ll be watching this one with interest.