5 questions to ask yourself when evaluating your Store Locator

When considering a brand or business’ website, the importance of including a page with store information is paramount. The need to locate a franchise or a distributor of a certain product range has now become imperative.

The tool driving this necessity is better known as a Store Locator. The Store Locator alone generates at least 10% of the overall traffic of a retail/e-commerce sector website.

When working closely with its clients, Web Geo Services has identified that between 20 and 30% of Internet users leave the website in question after consulting pages providing information on how or where to make their subsequent purchase.

The likelihood that these users subsequently seek out physical locations offline is therefore relatively high.
Today the question is no longer whether your business needs a Store Locator, but rather whether the Store Locator already in place meets the needs and expectations of your site’s current (and future) visitors.

Usually, the Store Locator simply displays points of sale on a map. Is this enough? Not at all!

This may be effective as a starting point, but rapidly becomes less so when considering the potential ability of Store Locators to:

  • Assist in redirecting Internet traffic towards points of sale,
    improve audience engagement with your brand / your business.
  • Many websites underestimate the importance of the Store Locator page, and have yet to measure the potential impact that visitors seeking retailers or distributors may have on their business both online and offline.

So where does your Store Locator stand? Is it helping your business achieve its full potential? Here are a few questions to help you reflect on whether it might be time to bring things up to date.

1- Does my Store Locator feature symbols/images corresponding to my website’s design?

The question may seem an obvious one, but it is common to find Store Locators that clash with the visual identity or style of the host website.
Presenting your Store Locator on an interactive Google Maps platform offers you the use of a visual layout, including the map itself, that extends the experience clients have with your brand – improving audience engagement in the process.
Attempts to locate stores are not only a key step in the journey towards achieving a sale, they are a critical point of contact with your brand’s identity. The Store Locator’s design adds a sense of continuity to this process, reinforcing the link between business and consumer.

2- Does your Store Locator display store opening hours according to the day of the week or provide information regarding early or late openings/closings?

It goes without saying that being able to successfully locate stores is essential. However, being able to find out whether or not a store is open in the evening, on Sundays or on public holidays (we presume we’re not the only ones worrying about weekend shopping in the weeks leading up to Christmas) is something that could have a significant impact on consumers’ behavior.

In order to be effective, the Store Locator must include specific information that audiences are requesting as 54% of mobile searches are questions regarding opening hours!
There’s nothing more irritating than arriving in front of a shop only to find the shutters closed, when this information could easily have been made available beforehand.

Stores open while others close. Such is life. But for your customers, it’s essential that this information be kept up to date, minute-to-minute, for any and all points of sale. Fortunately, there are simple solutions for updating changing store hours/information, all in real time.

3- Does your Store Locator calculate your customers’ estimated journey time and display the result without navigating away from the webpage, so that visitors remain on the site?

Displaying a store’s location? Good. Accompanying prospective customers to the same store? Even better. Offer clients a seamless experience, from the moment they first perform a search to the moment they arrive at the point of sale, without them once having to leave your website. Too many Store Locators risk redirecting visitors towards the public version of Google Maps, where details regarding competitors are easily displayed. Keep visitors on your website and offer an in-house Google Maps experience, complete with information on the quickest route and the latest traffic information.

4- Is your current Store Locator compatible with the latest Android/iPhone/other mobile systems? Is your Store Locator fast, efficient and adaptable?

Using a search engine to request store information generally poses no problem when accessed from a PC. However, this is by no means a given when trying to access a Store Locator from a mobile device/tablet.

Having undoubtedly developed your sites through a responsive design-based approach, you will know that the way we scroll and navigate is different depending on whether we use a keyboard and a mouse or our fingers. It therefore becomes imperative that the ‘search store’ option be adapted to both forms in order to optimize user experience. What’s more, typing in an address in order to calculate journey time, type it in again after making a tiny spelling mistake: these are the kinds of things that encourage visitors to leave your site. Even more so when considering smartphone keyboards, which, as large and interactive as they are, are still prone to typing errors.

What if your Store Locator was equipped with predictive text? After simply typing a few letters, your potential customer is presented with the precise address of the store location they were searching for.
To finish, the above questions can all be boiled down to the following:

5- Is your business taking full advantage of its Store Locator?

If you replied yes – bravo! So, just to be certain, you’re sure that:

  • you geolocalise potential customers and suggest locations effectively?
  • you direct customers towards the nearest branch or store before they ask, thanks to the proactive approach you’ve taken towards geolocalising them
  • depending on your client’s location, you display product stock levels according to teir nearest store?
  • you examine accumulated geolocation data in order to learn more about your core client base?

Still yes to everything? Well, you’re applying best practice and maximising your site’s potential profits using this optimized strategy. Bravo again!
Answered no to some or all of the last four questions?
Don’t panic! All you need is to adopt certain new policies aiming at optimizing your Store Locator. The next step is to identify some key partners to work alongside you. Follow my lead…:-)