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For many multichannel retailers, a joined up in-store and online approach increasingly makes good sense. While digital (which includes mobile) presents some new challenges for retailers, there's little doubt that offline and online can be a potent combination.

When it comes to driving online shoppers through the doors of a physical store, there are numerous ways to get the job done, from in-store events to click-and-collect schemes. But one of the easiest and often most overlooked is the handy store locator.

A well-designed store locator can be a big help in getting a customer or potential customer to drop in.

Here are five tips for creating an effective store locator experience...

1. Allow the user to save a store preference

With more and more retailers offering click-and-collect schemes and looking to facilitate online-driven offline purchases, it can be important to allow customers to save their nearest store as a preference so that relevant information about product availability can be displayed during their visits.

Example: On Walmart.com, clicking on the Make This My Store button through the store locator saves the customer's store as a preference, enabling a more personalized online shopping experience that encourages offline shopping.

2. Turn a visit into an event

For customers looking to make their visit to your store an efficient or VIP-like experience, offering the ability to schedule their visit can go a long way towards producing a quality customer experience.

Example: Bank of America allows account holders (and prospective account holders) to schedule appointments once they've identified the nearest BofA location of interest.

3. Offer advanced search and filtering functionality

Not all stores are created equal and customers may have a need to search for stores that offer particular services or have certain features. This is where advanced search and filtering functionality becomes necessary.

Example: The store locator on Starbucks.com allows users to filter by a number of very specific criteria, including the availability of digital rewards and mobile payments.

4. Show a pretty picture

Looking to get customers through the doors of your store? Making it easy for them to locate the stores that can service their needs is important, but trying to add a little bit of visual appeal of what awaits them can't hurt either.

Example: Apple's online store locator not only provides all the details you'd expect about each store location, it provides a pretty picture of the store as well.

5. Provide store-specific content

Most store locators provide basic information, such as store hours and services offered. But there is often an opportunity to go beyond this and provide deeper store-specific content.

This can include catalogs, information about events, and special promotions.

Example: Macys.com's store locator provides links to store events and store catalogs, allowing customers to learn more about what's going on at their nearest Macy's store and providing the retailer with additional opportunities to lure them through the doors.

Patricio Robles

Published 26 July, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2393 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

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Jabir Salam

Interesting article. However, it amazes me that no one has built a store locator (afaik) that enables the user to know which are the nearest stores esp when one does not know the location/ postcode that they are in. Possible use case is when you are en route to a friends place and it strikes you that you should take a gift along, the next thing you want to know is whether there is a store by the corner, ideally a Tesco/ Waitrose/ M&S etc.

It wouldn't be too complicated as almost all apps/ mobile sites request consent from the user so if the development team is capable of using the Google Maps API (find me) for your app, it should be a breeze! Or as a colleague told me today that HTML5 has enhanced location identification abilities.

Sorry, I just like using available technology to enhance experiences that can impact the bottomline!

about 4 years ago

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Douglas Karr

We built the store finder for Wild Birds Unlimited and found that some other additional features really helped visitors.
1. A mobile view that uses your geographic location so you don't have to type it in. Our mobile version doesn't require any typing, you can browse at the click of a finger to find what you need.
2. The ability to search by state and zip, not just address. This required some additional logic in the search mechanism.
3. And also, the ability to print the directions in a nice format. Printing a web page can look terrible, but if you format the page properly, it can look beautiful and provide all the information you need. We included the store and their phone number on the printed copy.

We've wanted to utilize our application for other companies, so if you're interested - please contact us!

about 4 years ago

Paul Huggett

Paul Huggett, Strategic Planning Director at Stickyeyes

6. Optimise for mobile

I think many bricks & mortar merchants who have an online presence are dragging their feet when it comes to store locators optimised for mobile especially when these are the primary platforms for store finding with many people.

At the moment many of them are entrenched in still making a user select an area or filling in an area code. Given todays GPS enabled devices only a small percentage are utlising the 'find stores near me now' ability.

about 4 years ago

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Zip code locator Zip code locator, Store Locators at Zip code locator

Very informative article you have got here. I love reading this kind of stuff. This is truly a great read for me. I hope to see more articles from you. To get the subscription with this software, check out http://www.easylocator.net/. Easy Locator has set itself apart while using number and sophistication of functions within the software.

almost 3 years ago

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