Live From NRF: Bing Building Better Maps

Since Microsoft relaunched its search engine in May, some snickers that its name, Bing, was an acronym for “but it’s not Google.”

But Bing wants to compete with the search engine giant, and made that clear during a presentation Monday at the National Retail Federation’s Annual Convention and Expo.

Tim Henderson, a business development manager for Microsoft, said his company has made strides with its map features that he hopes will make Bing Maps a choice of multichannel retailers.

Recent additions to Bing Maps include new birds-eye and aerial imagery of 95% of the U.S., iPhone apps, geocoding and directions for both driving and walking.

The walking directions, Henderson said, came from customer feedback from users in Manhattan.

“If you’re trying to find a Bank of America with an ATM machine in Manhattan, it may be a shorter walk than drive based on all the one-way streets,” Henderson said. “If people can’t conveniently get from point A to point B, they are not going to use it.”

But the back end of Bing Maps, Henderson said, is just as important. Merchants could use Bing Maps to follow its truck fleet status, track weather for inventory purposes, and check on sales by IP location.

The birds-eye view, which gives a 3D, 45-degree angle of a mapped location, also gives merchants an opportunity to brand their location, since outdoor signage could be clearly visable.

Bing Maps is also advertisement free, Henderson said, since it is a product a merchant would license for use on its site.

Retailers using Bing Maps include Starbucks, Nordstrom, Petco and Bed Bath & Beyond.

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