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.