Small merchants and sole proprietors are the ideal laboratory for Google and its strategic partner Global Payments as they experiment with creating new digital shopping experiences, according to executives from the two companies.
“We’re starting with small businesses because we all saw the huge advantages that came from digitizing operations during the pandemic,” Janet Kennedy, vice president of Google Cloud for North America regions, said during a panel discussion at last week’s Electronic Transactions Association conference.
Google’s partnership with Global Payments, announced last year, is its first with a payments company. In the months since forming the pact, the two companies have been adapting Google’s public application programming interfaces including Google Workspace, Google My Business and Google Ads for Global Payments’ 3.5 million merchants across 60 countries. As part of the agreement Global Payments will also become a worldwide merchant acquiring provider to Google.
The companies are piloting tools to get small businesses up and running quickly for digital and in-store selling, using Google’s search and advertising platform services. The partners are also using business-management products, and the data and payment capabilities Global Payments provides its merchant customers. One tool the partnership produced is Smart Campaigns, which provides a ramp to launch email marketing campaigns, loyalty and gift card programs.
“We’re laser-focused on small business as we work to democratize all of the cloud-based tools typically available to large enterprises to entrepreneurs,” said Gilbert Bailey, global head of commerce enablement solutions at Global Payments.
Tests underway now with several undisclosed merchants enable them to launch an e-commerce website and begin selling products and services and accepting payments immediately, with instant access to tools powered by artificial intelligence to manage marketing, ad placement and social media reviews.
“Instead of the usual process of setting up an e-commerce site that can take at least 10 days — including U.S. Postal Service verification — a small business using our service can verify their site digitally through Global in one hour and get a marketing campaign going and pick the right type of ads and keywords, using suggestions from AI,” Bailey said.
In the next phase of the partnership beginning this summer, Google and Global will add support for small businesses to manage online ordering, inventory lists and photos, reservations and the ability to accept payments through a single portal.
Google and Global payments are jointly developing products they will sell directly to enterprises and market to small businesses through third-party channel partners, such as Xceleran, a business-management software company based in Wayne, Pennsylvania.
“If you look at the small-business market, 85% of these companies have bought some kind of cloud services, but most aren’t using it. Many of those we’ve helped to access cloud technology have seen their annual revenue quadruple, especially sole proprietors who can suddenly do so much more with these tools,” said Sean Marzola, Xceleran’s president.
By combining Xceleran’s business-management tools with Google’s APIs and payments support through Global Payments, small businesses can gain significant efficiencies, he said.
“AI simplifies tasks that would have taken one entrepreneur more hours than there are in the day,” Marzola said.
The combination of Google’s tools with Global Payments’ integration with merchants also simplifies the consumer journey. For example, a consumer searching in Google Maps for a specific type of business would be able to find a merchant registered through Global Payments who meets that need and take several actions.
“A consumer could go through Maps to find the business that’s open now, book an appointment and pay, or follow up with another order, all in one seamless move,” Kennedy said.
Google and Global Payments are working first to bring small-business solutions through their partnership to the market in the U.S., to be followed by Europe, according to Bailey.
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