Store locator tools are hugely important for multichannel retailers, with their importance increasing due to the consumer shift to mobile and our reliance on digital maps for directions.

This was a point hammered home to me over the weekend when I was hopelessly wandering the streets of Catford trying to find a Tesco Superstore.

Store locator tools seem a very basic part of modern web design, yet clearly not all sites manage to get it right.

The importance of giving people useful, local information is further underlined by data published by Google.

It shows that 40% of mobile searches have local intent, while three out of four mobile searches trigger follow-up actions, whether that be further research, a store visit, a phone call, a purchase or word-of-mouth sharing.

With this in mind I’ve taken a look to see which brands have great mobile store locator tools, but first here’s a look at a few features that need to be included.

And for more on this topic, read our posts on minimal mobile UI design and gorgeous examples of mobile design inspiration.

Store locator UX factors

  • Use geo-location

A bit of a no-brainer. Retailers should allow people to search for their local store using an IP address or their phone’s GPS signal.

It speeds up the process and means mobile users don’t have to enter their postcode using the small, fiddly keypad.

  • Include store information

It’s likely that people will need to know the opening times for each store, but retailers should also include contact information, the types of services available (e.g. click and collect, parking, types of products sold) and any other relevant details.

  • Make the map interactive

People want to be able to expand the map and navigate around to get a better idea of where each store is located.

This probably means plugging into the Google Maps API.

Good examples

And now for some examples of brands getting it right.

John Lewis

John Lewis has a ‘Shops’ tab in the top nav, so it’s really easy for mobile users to begin looking for their nearest outlet.

If you use the GPS feature it automatically brings back the details of the nearest shop, including opening hours, a click-to-call button, and in-depth details of how to find it (e.g. nearest tube, parking information, congestion charge, etc).

                 

There’s also a button that links to Google Maps and another that leads to a downloadable department guide, though it comes as a PDF. 

Debenhams

Though Debenhams’ store locator isn’t perfect, it is better than most.

It gives the opening hours, address, store manager’s name, and the location of the click & collect desk. It also links users to Google Maps for directions.

On the downside the locator tool is hidden within a tiny link in the hamburger menu, there’s no phone number, and the maps aren’t very useful.

                 

Nandos

The bizarrely popular chicken restaurant has a great ‘Find your nearest Nandos’ CTA within the hamburger menu.

Each listing gives users an interactive map, opening hours, details on baby changing and wheelchair accessibility, Tube information and a click-to-call telephone number.

There are also text links for the five other Nandos restaurants closest to this outlet.

                 

Carphone Warehouse

Carphone Warehouse has opted for icons in its top nav, but most mobile users should be familiar with the map pin logo.

The tool itself has a great ‘Find stores’ CTA, while the store pages offer a great UX and have all the information one could need. Top marks.

                  

Schuh

Another excellent store finder, this time from Schuh. There’s a prominent link at the top of the page, a great ‘Current location’ CTA, and the store pages provide all the relevant information.

                  

Morrisons

The locator tool is easy to spot on Morrisons’ homepage and the GPS function returns a well-designed results page.

Unfortunately the map feature isn’t interactive, but it does offer useful directions. 

                 

M&S

Who knew there were so many M&S shops in Central London? 

This is a great interactive map that links to really useful and thorough store information.

                 

In conclusion…

In my humble opinion, all of these store locators offer a decent user experience though Schuh and M&S potentially stand out as the best.

I’m a fan of Schuh’s big CTAs and user-friendly navigation, while M&S provides a great UX combined with stacks of useful information.

I had to visit a surprising number of different retailers in order to find these examples, so clearly store locator design is an area that requires more attention.