If you want to give your consumers a convenient way of finding your physical stores, getting to them easily and keeping up to date with what’s going on in them, you need a store locator. With today’s shopper becoming increasingly tech-savvy, tending to use a smartphone or other device to search for products, a store locator platform is a business essential.
And, as we discuss below, a store locator can help you drive more sales. Store locators give consumers useful, practical information, yes – but they do much more than that, too. They can help incentivise shoppers, improve your marketing visibility, waste less time on menial jobs and so much more. Here are five reasons you need a store locator.
A store locator helps you go o2o
Online to offline (o2o) is an emerging marketing strategy that helps retailers maximise their customer reach by combining the digital and physical worlds. Many companies focus their efforts on either online or offline; in fact, bringing the two together is really the sweet spot. Going o2o supports you in enabling customers to search, browse and shop however they like: researching online before buying in-store, ordering online and picking up via a click-and-collect service, finding you through local search, or even bagging a great Groupon deal. Online to offline is about broadening your exposure so you target as many consumers as possible.
Think of a store locator as the connecting bridge between the online and offline spheres – without one, potential customers would have no way of finding out where your physical stores are located from their smartphones, laptops and tablet devices. But with a store locator you can give consumers everything they need to get to your stores – and spend money.
A store locator helps you plan for growth
Store locators are not just useful consumer tools. They can help you too. A store locator can act as a data hub – delve into it and it will tell you a lot more than you realise – about your customers and about your stores. Many brands use store locators as a way to incentivise customers. For example, you can place a discount code on a store locator results page, designed to encourage a shopper to use it in-store. Here you can analyse what kind of offers and promotions work well, and which don’t, giving you a good idea of how best you can tempt consumers in future.
You will also find out which of your locations are most searched for. Getting a view of your most popular stores can help you plan for where to site new stores in future – ones in retail parks, say, near major roads and thoroughfares, or close to high streets.
A store locator helps you compete in local SEO
We mentioned local search in our first point, and it’s worth expanding on it a little. Local SEO is about increasing the search visibility of your specific bricks-and-mortar stores, so customers can find them online easily. This, then, is different from what might be called a ‘broad brush’ SEO strategy, where you mine general, not-location-specific search strings, like ‘cheap laptops’ etc. Instead, you would target keyword chains that focus on a relevant keyword but have locality wrapped around them: ‘cheap laptops New York’.
Good store locators offer more than shop locations and opening times. They offer useful content, through which you can place local search phrases. In turn, this should boost your visibility when people search for such keywords. According to Google trends analysis, 76% of people who conduct a local search visit a physical store within 24 hours, with 28% of those searches resulting in a purchase.
A store locator helps you prioritise
Store locators have changed the way brands manage their customer service. Before store locators were widely used, companies spent a lot of time dealing with customer queries – typically via the telephone, which took up a pretty big chunk of resources, especially for larger companies with lots and lots of stores. Many of these queries – opening times, location, how to get to stores by public transport – can be easily answered on store locator results pages.
The result? You spend less time and money dealing with commonly asked questions. The store locator does it for you. In turn, you can spend more time focusing on more strategic projects – from new product launches to business development to marketing strategies.
A store locator helps you compete
In order to stay ahead in business, keeping up with the Joneses is crucial. If your competitors have fully-fledged store locators but you don’t, you can’t expect to rank alongside them in any adequate capacity. Investing in a store locator puts you well entrenched in the rest of the pack, standing alongside your competition as opposed to some way below it. Over time, a store locator will show you just how much you’ve grown – starting with a relatively small portfolio of stores before building to a fully-fledged retail giant.