Google India announced the launch of online Web Academy for Small Businesses for India at the GDayX 2013 organized at Chennai on November 9, 2013 by Google Business Group (GBG) Chennai. Sunil Rao, Country Head for Outreach Programs of Google, during his keynote on “Emerging Trends in Digital Marketing and Technology,” said that the academy plans to add 25 to 30 modules in the coming six months. Currently, there are five modules in the Web Academy on Communicate across Platforms, List Your Business Online, Survey Your Customers, Create and Share Your Newsletter, and Meet Virtually for Business. Adding an online test for each module and issuing a certificate on completion of the test is under active consideration, for which Google is seeking feedback from the portal. The Web Academy is intended to be a resource for small businesses aspiring to have an online presence. Talking to YourStory, Sunil Rao sounded optimistic about small businesses getting online. “We are coming out with a lot of local content with a strong emerging market focus,” he said when asked about challenges of many small business owners not having knowledge of English.
At present, small business are provided a variety of options by Google to get online. Get India Business Online, a program aimed at SMBs, provides a free web site to small businesses on trial for one year. If a business finds it useful, it can subscribe from the second year on. Sunil Rao said India is the second largest SMB market in the world after China. Out of the 45 million SMBs in India, 17 million SMBs have a staff strength of more than 10. Of the 17 million, Google has converted 200,000 of them online in the last year and half.
For businesses not having online presence, another option that Google provides is Google Places for Business. “Not all businesses need a website. But if you are having a bakery, at least you should show up on a map,” Sunil Rao told YourStory. “Once businesses lists their place with contact numbers and then verify it, we put them on Google Maps,” he added. Google has authorized agencies that are asking retail businesses to list on the map.
For showrooms and parlours (and similar businesses), Google Business Photos come handy. All Harley Davidson showrooms in India have made use of Google Business Photos and 80% of jewellery shops in Ahmedabad have also availed this offering.
YourStory learns that Google is also relying on GBGs to spread the word about its SMB products to enlist SMBs online. The biggest challenge lies in convincing small business to have an online presence. One of the problems that is clearly evident is language (many SMBs have a strong hyperlocal trading focus using the local language; e.g., neighbourhood kirana shops). Google has managed to list 0.11% (200,000) of the 17 million businesses online in the last 18 months. That again provides a significant opportunity for startups to scratch this market.