Google Maps is an essential part of the online ordering experience both on the website as well as the apps. There are 2 key places where Google Maps is used:
- Determining the user location and the closest store
- Saving a user's address for delivery
For supporting the above cases, we make use of the following services from Google Maps platform:
- Places API - Autocomplete
This is used where a user types in a few letters and Google suggests places based on matching predictions.
- Places API - Place Details
This is used to fetch the basic information (address, latitude, longitude) about a place that is selected by the user by clicking on one of the suggested places from the autocomplete functionality.
- Geocode API
This is used for determining the basic details of a place based on a latitude and longitude value.
This comes into play when a user launches the ordering app and we use the lat/long value available from the operating system and pass it to Google Maps to get the address of the place. This is also used when a user clicks on the "Locate me" widget on the website to determine the location without searching for a place.
The Google Maps service used to be free for a long time. Around June 2018, Google Maps announced that it will become a paid service. They announced a pricing plan along with a monthly $200 credit.
The pricing for all the services that we use is included under the "Places" section of the pricing plan.
Since we had been using the service for free all this while, we had no idea what would be the impact of the new pricing. As required by Google, we set up dedicated "Billing Accounts" for each of our merchants using our own payment account. These billing accounts were all set up for processing payment in INR.
What we found after the first 3-4 months was that charge levied for every billing account totaled to Rs.0. We were happy that no new additional cost was getting levied and carried on.
In March 2020, Google started enforcing a daily request limit of 750 on every merchant account. This would mean that with as few as 100 visitors to the website/app per day, this limit would easily be hit. When we reached out to Google about this arbitrary daily limit, they said that since all our billing accounts are set up for INR processing, they have been unable to charge the usage correctly. To restore usage, we will need to set up USD Billing Accounts.
That is what we are doing for all our new merchants and any merchant who complains of having hit the threshold. However, ever since we've moved to the new billing account setup, we have realized that any merchant who gets close to even 50-100 orders a day, exhausts the $200 monthly credit. As a result, we have set a daily request quota of 1750 requests to ensure that our billing accounts do not get charged for additional usage.
What does this mean for you?
If your website/app breaches the threshold set by us, Google Places and related services will stop functioning. If you report the same to our support team, we will ask you to set up your own billing account (since the website and platform's current pricing is not inclusive of any additional charges we incur from Google Maps).
We will reach out to you and help you set up the billing account and other configurations that are required for getting Google Maps working on your website and apps again.
For more information related to setting up of Google Maps account in India, here's a list of FAQ shared by Google.