In February 2021, Google introduced a Black-owned designation to its Shopping tab to help consumers easily find and purchase from Black-owned businesses.
Black-owned companies can add the distinction to their businesses through the Google Merchant Help Center. The company rolled out the feature to all U.S. shoppers over the following few months. Google said that searches for Black-owned businesses spiked 600% in 2020 compared to 2019. The company also noticed users searching for “Black-owned bookstores,” “Black-owned beauty supply,” “Black-owned restaurants” and similar terms.
Following nationwide racial justice protests over the summer of 2020, many local communities have made a conscious effort to support Black-owned businesses. The tech giant responded to the demand by adding its Black-owned business designation to its Google Search and Maps tools in July 2020 to help consumers find Black businesses.
But despite this growing interest, a June 2020 report from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that 41% of Black-owned businesses closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. To assist these merchants, Google has partnered with the Opportunity Finance Network to provide $30 million in loans and grants to Black-owned businesses and community leaders.
Over the course of the pandemic, Google has introduced a number of features to connect shoppers with sellers. In October 2020, Google enhanced its visual search capabilities. The platform also released features to help consumers find local businesses offering services like curbside and in-store pickup in September 2020.
In light of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, other Black-owned beauty brands were thrust into the spotlight, pushing retailers to highlight Black cosmetic companies and beauty brands to create Black-centered campaigns. That effort continued into 2021, with Ipsy committing $7 million to develop and promote Black-owned cosmetics brands.
As Google focuses on helping Black entrepreneurs survive the COVID-19 pandemic, other companies have provided funding and other resources to assist merchants in transitioning into e-commerce. Both eBay and Facebook dedicated $100 million toward supporting small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.