Back in 2018, Google Maps for Android and iOS introduced a way for customers to directly contact stores. Google today is expanding Business Messages in Maps and adding more functionality.

According to the company, “twice as many businesses are messaging via Google now, compared to last year.” The feature now supports more business types with Walmart and Australia’s Woolworths supermarkets already trying the updated experience.

The messaging experience has added smart replies, product carousels, and unique welcome messages. There’s also a less disruptive “transition from automated replies to a customer service agent.”

Woolworths, Australia’s largest supermarket, allows customers to search for products and see availability and aisle information at their local store, plus get details about hours and COVID-19 related updates to make shopping easier. In just a few messages, Walmart lets customers quickly find up-to-date information about store hours, pick-up and delivery options, precautions and more.

Meanwhile, MyGov lets people in India get information about over 11,000 shelters:

And MyGov, with partner Amplify.ai, is providing help and answering live questions from Indian citizens about hours, COVID-19 helplines, and ways to volunteer and donate, for more than 11,000 food and night shelters across India.

Brands, like Dish, are also taking advantage of the capability:

DISH, with partner [24]7.ai, has seen a reduction of more than 22 percent in average handle time using Business Messages features compared to other messaging channels.

Google is also working to bring Business Messages to mobile websites and improving how it’s surfaced in Search. The feature is currently available in English, but support for other languages is planned. There’s also integration with customer service platforms.

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