When it comes to driving online shoppers into physical stores, there are a number of tools, such as click and collect, vouchers and mobile search. 

One overlooked and perhaps less glamorous method is the store locator tool. 

Here are a few tips to improve your store finder tools… 

What is a store finder?

Store finders, whether mobile or web-based, help users to locate your various branches, normally through a postcode or location search.

Store finders are one of the easiest and often overlooked ways to get web users to visit your store’s physical location(s).

Why use store finders?

A well-designed store locator can be a big help in generating footfall.

Store finders also reduce pressure on customer service lines, as simple questions on location and opening hours can be answered online.

Why do customers find store finders useful?

When implemented well, a store finder helps customers to quickly find a local store, or one nearest to the place they’re heading to.

Let’s say somebody wants to buy a newly released game. A quick search on a site like HMV or Game will enable them to find a location so they can drop in to make a purchase.

When the same principle is applied to mobile, a store finder tool can effectively direct customers to a store in their immediate vicinity and save them valuable time.

According to our recent Multichannel Retail Survey, almost a third (32%) of UK consumers have used their mobile to find a retailer’s nearest store or opening times, with this figure rising to 41% in the US.

Q. Have you used your mobile to find a retailer’s nearest store, opening times, etc?

Not everyone wants to buy online, or is comfortable with buying online, so it’s important that your website accommodates all types of shopper. Brands that can integrate sales channels for consumer research and purchasing can achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction.

Store finders: tips for implementation

A good store locator has to be user-friendly. Any frustration in finding accurate results and shoppers will head for another site.

The following features will help to give customers the information they need to find your store:

Allow searches by postcode and location.

People may not know the exact postcode so give them some options. You could also use maps to help users narrow the search area. Also, allowing a search by the first half of the postcode makes it easier.

Here, House of Fraser provides both options: 

Detect users’ location and serve relevant results

Many shoppers look for information on stores when they’re out and about, via mobile phones that know exactly where they are.

This saves time for mobile users, and should ensure more accurate results. 

Make your store finder mobile friendly

Many searchers may be just minutes from your store, so make it easy to find on their smartphones.

Provide directions

Linking to Google Maps is a great way to present this information to shoppers that use smartphones, and should help them arrive at your store. Unless they have the iOS 6 maps that is. 

Serve up the information they need

People need to know opening times, the kinds of in-store facilities on offer, contact details if they have an enquiry, and so on.

For example, Macys.com’s store locator provides links to store events, allowing customers to learn more about what’s going on at their nearest store and providing the retailer with additional opportunities to lure them through the doors.

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.