So, how do the big supermarkets deliver on consumer interest in this area?
Here’s a look at how their mobile store locator tools measure up.
Users might naturally be drawn to Google’s local search function, however I’m interested in the store locator on the mobile site.
Unfortunately, Google does not give users the option to head straight to it via a sitelink in the search results, so you have to click through to find it.
Though it’s a very prominent part of the mobile site, the tool itself is a bit clunky and unresponsive.
It didn’t automatically detect my location, nor did it recognise or predict my ‘London’ search query.
On the positive side, it did return a comprehensive amount of information on nearby stores, including opening times, phone numbers and accessibility information.
Conveniently, it also allows users to click out to Google Maps to find directions.
Sadly, the fiddly design does let it down. The map feature gives you a rough idea of the proximity of the stores, yet its inclusion is fairly pointless and takes up a lot of screen space. Similarly, there is no option to filter, so you have to dig deeper into the search results to find specific features like Metro or whether a stores sells certain product ranges.
Overall, it’s a bit of a let down, meaning users might just resort back to Google.
Searching for Sainsbury’s stores on the retailer’s mobile site is a much faster and easier process.
The store locator appears as a sitelink in Google search results, and there is even a further drop-down menu that offers nearby store suggestions.
The tool is also more appealing in terms of design and functionality. It immediately detects that I am in London, and the predictive search bar means I am able to easily enter and select a specific location, too.
In contrast to Tesco, I found the results much easier to decipher and navigate.
Set out in a simple and attractive list format, it provides basic information about opening times and telephone numbers.
Users can then choose to click ‘more information’ to find out additional details like the name of the store manager and even its chosen charity. While the latter is arguably irrelevant for mobile users, it’s a nice touch nonetheless.
Lastly, the most impressive part is the integrated directions feature, which means you don’t have to click away to Google Maps to find out how to get to a store (even though, let’s face it, you probably will).
The Asda mobile store locator also appears as a Google sitelink, meaning users can navigate to it almost instantly. A good sign, but sadly, the absence of automatic location detection is a bit of a let down.
On the other hand, the additional prompt to add nearby stores as ‘favourites’ is a nice nod to the user experience, meaning you can easily find and double check opening times, etc.
Again, the absence of a predictive search bar is a bit annoying, however the results are thorough. Set out in a list format, users are given an instant idea of the where the nearest store is as well as its full address.
There’s also a handy option to filter by types of store, like 24 hours, petrol or click and collect, however this feature is a bit hidden and could easily be missed if users fail to scroll down.
Clicking through to a specific store, and further information is nicely highlighted and easy to find. The ‘shop online’ button, though perhaps slightly redundant in this context, acts as a call-to-action to entice mobile consumers to browse.
Another feature worth pointing out is ‘stories’ – a page which details various (and often heart-warming) goings-on in Asda stores up and down the country.
While the stories themselves are the same throughout the mobile site – and therefore nothing to do with the specific store you are looking at – it’s still a nice feature and a way of implementing storytelling to engage mobile consumers.
Finally, the Morrisons store locator also appears as a sitelink in the Google search results. (Tesco really is looking like the odd one out now, right?)
With an option to manually enter or detect a current location, the tool is both functional and easy to use.
Once it detected my location, I was met with a handy snapshot of local stores, interestingly labelled with extra features like ‘new look store’. This is a small detail but helps to give the store a bit of context.
Clicking through to discover more information, the pages are much more visual than the other examples I’ve mentioned, including photographs and graphics to grab the user’s attention.
I also like the fact that opening hours are separated into various categories like pharmacy, café and petrol station, which is something that other supermarkets don’t make as clear.
Lastly, directions can be accessed via Bing maps, and while consumers are likely to prefer Google, the integrated feature means that users are less likely to click away.