Although online shopping is a very popular practice these days, it is not uncommon for customers to want to see, touch, smell, compare and better understand the products they consider purchasing. Or they simply do not want to wait a few days for the package to arrive and prefer to visit the nearest store as quickly as possible. Saving money on delivery is another important reason why people prefer to shop or pick their orders in brick-and-mortar stores.
Therefore, if you sell products or services not only online, but also through a chain of physical stores, it is not a bad idea to help your prospects locate these stores by adding a special functionality to your online shopping cart. This solution has many benefits: less calls from customers looking for specific information about your products and more time for important matters, but the main goal of this solution is to offer your customers a convenient way of finding the nearest store and planning how to get there.
Let’s look at how international brands such as Harvey Nichols, Fred Perry and The Watch Gallery have implemented this solution. Each of the above mentioned sites contains a strategically placed element/link indicating that this company also runs brick-and-mortar stores. Those elements/links are usually placed somewhere in the header and their goal is to redirect visitors to pages offering information about the location of physical stores. These elements/links can be called “store locator”, “our stores” or “find a store”, but it is virtually the same kind of functionality.
The simplest and the least expensive way to inform your customers about the location of your online stores is to create a regular CMS page with store names, addresses, images and other useful information. It is not a bad option if you run or cooperate with a few physical stores, because you can organize information on the CMS page in such way that it is visually graspable and customers won’t be forced to skim through a lot of text to find the address they need. However, the more physical stores you want to add here, the more challenging it will be to enhance important information and keep the attention of your prospects.
A more advanced way of using CMS pages to provide customers with information about the location of physical stores is to create a general location page linked to each store individual landing page. This solution is not only more user-friendly, but also convenient from the SEO perspective, because you can create spider-friendly URLs for each page and add specific keywords and other meta information for each location. We like the way Beyond Retro implemented this functionality on their site.
CMS pages providing information about the system of your brick-and-mortar stores have their advantages, however, if you limit your store location functionality only to CMS pages, you are denying your customers the most convenient option – the so-called store locator.
The general idea behind store locators is to allow customers to see the location of your stores on Google Maps. This way customers can easily plan the best route to your store or find the store closest to their homes or places of work. This solution has several variations, but the main principles remain the same in every version of this functionality. The most popular features offered by the store locators are:
On the customer side:
- Search by distance;
- Search by area (based on the address or zip code);
- Filter by category;
- Display store opening hours, address, in-store events, contacts etc.;
- View the list of all stores on Google Map;
- Display detailed directions on the map;
- Contact the store after selecting it.
On the store administrator side:
- Import store information in mass via CSV file;
- Upload custom marker icons to show locations on the map;
- Enable/disable zoom and the map type change (satellite or map view);
- Specify how to display search results for store locations (by title, position, distance);
- Highlight and move to the top of the list “featured” locations.
Let’s take a look at how some of these features were implemented on different sites.
Paperchase, for example, offers three options to choose from: it can display the nearest store using IP detection technology, determine what the nearest store is based on provided city name or postcode or it can display the complete list of all available locations. This solution will satisfy every customer’s needs!
Adding to the options offered by Paperchase, Chopard also provides its customers with the option of filtering store addresses by product category.
Radley, on the other hand, calculates the distance to every store so you can easily check which location is the most convenient and easy to reach.
So far everything seems to be pretty clear, doesn’t it? But if you wonder where to start and what to pay attention to, here are some of our suggestions:
- Create a list of all cities where you conduct your businesses.
- Create a list with information you want to display. Make sure it is comprehensive enough for your customers to decide which store to visit.
- Make sure that all displayed store information is compliant with the local law.
- Conduct research to determine which store location filtering options (by address, zip code, IP address etc.) are most often used by your customers. Sometimes conducting a research among existing customers is enough, but be open to other options as well, because you never know who will visit your site and what their preferences will be.
- Use obvious names for links to the store locator page. You can never go wrong with “Store locator” or “Our stores”.
- Provide clickable phone numbers, Skype IDs etc.
- Create map markers, which are clickable and easy to understand.
- Include only those countries, where your physical stores are already located. Do not force your customers to make their way through all countries in the world in order to find the right address.
- Make sure your store locator page is optimized for mobile devices. Choose fully responsive plugins and test your online store across different platforms.
Store locator solutions for Magento
Speaking of location listing implementation in Magento, it’s not at a rocket science and you can use simply use the default CMS functionality offered by Magento. However, if you want to implement a store locator functionality, you will need to install an extension of your choosing and customize it if necessary.
We compiled a list of a few solutions for both Magento 1 and Magento 2 to help you make up your mind.
Magento 1x extensions:
The most popular store locator extension for Magento. It offers many search options and simple, but attractive user interface.
An extension, which offers search by Zip code. Easy to install and use, SEO-friendly and integrated with Google Maps.
The extension allows you to define a search radius and has the features to bring customers to your offline stores. It automatically detects the user location and is fully integrated with Google Maps.
Magento 2x extensions:
This extension offers roughly the same features as the second option on our Magento 1x plugin list. Great integration with Google Maps, many setting options and ways of managing locations.
An extension offering search based on address and radius, integrated with Google Maps and providing basic information about physical stores. The integration test feature allows you to check how this extension works in your online store after implementation.
Unlimited number of store locations, filtering by distance and automatic display of information about the closest stores are some of the features offered by this extension. Easy to customize open source plugin for Magento.
If you sell your products not only online, but also offline, store location functionality is not an option, but a necessity. Customers expect all-encompassing solutions, which they can use on the go – check the directions and availability of products on their smartphones and tablets as they are heading to one of your stores. Therefore, we strongly advise all brick-and-mortar retailers to consider implementing a store locator functionality in their online stores – the potential benefits are difficult to ignore and available solutions are easier to install and use than you probably think.
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