Use A Virtual 360-Degree Tour Of Your Business To Increase Foot Traffic and Sales

I truly like to support my local small businesses and whenever possible, I do.  Of course, I do my due diligence before getting in the car and driving by researching a store or restaurant online to see if it will be fitting for what I’m looking for.  Unfortunately, many websites only offer general information, with maybe a few still photo shots of product or location (if that), but that’s about it.  Because of this, I have many times arrived at a location and wondered to myself “At what angle did they take that photo?”, wondering if I was at the correct location because it looked NOTHING like what was in the photos online. This is when I wish there had been a way to do a virtual 360-degree tour of the place before I wasted all that valuable time!

Has this ever happened to you? While the ‘craftiness’ of those particular locations to create an appealing appearance may pay off and get folks to the door, it certainly doesn’t translate into sales, as people will often just walk away, as I have many times done.  Beyond that, it leaves the consumer with a level of hesitancy and skepticism on future searches, which may further deter foot traffic to locations only using still shots and general information on their site.

So the question becomes, how does a retail location overcome this and give people a view into their store, virtually, to encourage and entice them to visit?  Well, the new answer is to actually provide a 360-Degree Virtual tour that can be viewed on Google Maps, the business website and business Google Places page. This is exactly what Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, NJ and 100,000 other businesses are doing! 

These virtual tours, officially named ‘Google Business Photos‘ are the newest marketing tool to showcase your physical location to potential customers and for those businesses who have already employed these tours, they think it’s an absolute must! Restaurants, bars, event halls, cafes, spas, hair salons, art galleries, fitness centers, retail outlets and so many more have discovered that giving customers the ability to come in and see your location, virtually, is a definite plus and huge opportunity to showcase your product, service and location.  Check out this great video on exactly how it works, or view below:


Virtual, a New York based immersive panoramic imagery studio with several offices across the country, shot the Carlo’s Bakery virtual 360-degree tour.

“We are so pleased with how the shoot came out for Carlo’s Bakery.  It’s a great business and now it’s so easy for anyone, anywhere to tour the famous bakery without leaving their computer.”, said Jimmy Miño, founder and CEO of Virtual “We’ve created virtual tours for numerous other businesses in the New York City area, as well, and everyone has been thrilled. These images aren’t just for Google search results and Google+ Pages, either.  You can use them right on your own website where potential customers are able to explore your business before they even arrive.  It’s relatively inexpensive and only takes a few hours on location to complete, but the results are extremely powerful and polished.”

Photo shoot packages start at $350, but final pricing will depend on the size of the location and how many locations the business may have. Most photo shoots take about an hour, but again that will vary based on the size of the location and number of locations and because the photographers don’t need any special equipment, your business location can remain open during the photo shoot, just like any normal business day.

Virtual uses only ‘Google Trusted Photographers’, meaning they are trained to take high quality photos of building interiors, accommodating for common challenges such as low lighting and tight spaces. The photographers are also certified to take pictures using fish-eye lenses and rotating camera turrets (mounted on tripods) that, once uploaded to Google’s processing pipelines by photographers, will be transformed into 360-degree panoramic imagery and a walk through of your business.  Google has certified these photographers because they meet Google’s standards of quality for taking the feature pictures and panoramic pictures, uploading them, moderating them and eventually publishing them on Google properties.

If you are looking for a new way to market your business in 2013, a virtual 360-degree virtual tour addition to your website and Google Places page may be just the thing to spark additional interest and visits.

If you give it a try, or a business that is currently using the virtual 360-degree tour, share with us your experience and how it’s worked for your business.

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Carolyn Crummey is a business and technology strategist and the owner of VirTasktic (, an agency dedicated to providing high-level virtual services to small businesses and entrepreneurs. A lover of technology and small business, Carolyn has built a career on the intelligent use of technology to increase business efficiency and productivity, which ultimately leads to greater profitability. Carolyn works closely with her clients to understand their challenges and helps them integrate the best technology solutions into their businesses so they too can enjoy great successes. You can follow Carolyn on Twitter at @CarolynCrummey or @VirTasktic.

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