Digital and E-Commerce have grown tremendously and affected how we interact with brands during the past couple of years. According to The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, providing and purchasing goods and services online raised e-commerce's share of global retail trade from 14% in 2019 to about 17% in 2020.
When consumers are looking online for a local retailer, a well-designed Store Locator can help you stand out from the crowd. Here are the reasons why you should improve it and what I consider critical:
1. Traditional businesses with a physical footprint are required to have an impactful digital presence nowadays to remain competitive. Offering online information about the brand and its products remains one of the strongest advantages when having a local store(s). Take into account that in Q4 2020, retail searches grew at a rate over 3X higher than the same time last year, signifying a major shift to digital. In addition to this 81% of customers across the globe have discovered new brands online during COVID-19, more than 50% of online users use Google Search to research their in-store purchases. (Think with Google, 2021)
2. Offering the customers options to find your store(s) in real-time to interact with your products is critical. Potential clients will use different ways to find the next store they will try, from local hashtags on Instagram, Google Maps and even business directory apps like yellow pages. With that in mind, you should be on all of them and jump on the opportunity to be where your competitors are not… yet.
3. A custom store locator embedded within your CMS (Shopify, WooCommerce, etc.) is a great way to invite customers to bridge the gap between a physical and a digital store and boost their confidence in your brand. By having a custom store locator on your website, you have more control over the user experience, thus allowing you to showcase relevant details that might slightly differ from what google maps or other platforms allow you to show.
4. Thanks to the many public APIs available today, it is possible to build an interactive store locator experience by holding first-party data enriched with third-party data. For example, Google Places API offers you the guarantee to publish the most accurate information publicly available, such as contact information and, most importantly, honest third-party reviews. In addition to standard filtering, you can add advanced elements so users can quickly filter by business type and product availability, allowing them to find what they are looking for in less time.
5. Your store locator should be responsive, incredibly fast to load, easy to use, and scalable as more data will be featured over time. Ensure that you can easily add, rename, and edit stores, making it pleasant for the customers to use and easy to maintain, therefore less resource-intensive for your internal team.
Implementing a dynamic and responsive Store Locator acts as an excellent search tool and a collective bridge between traditional and online retail, highlighting the strong advantages that each one has in the market and ultimately benefit the consumer.