Managing a brand website with lots of physical locations can be difficult without specific focus on site design, usability, and a store locator widget. A brand requires a consistent image and tone of voice, plus a particular, mapped-out journey for the customer which leads to an offline conversion. Keeping these things in check as the customer navigates from the online world to the offline world can sometimes be a challenge without the right tools.

Why you need to keep your brand message consistent

This focus on consistency is key to a brand’s success, particularly when a consumer is engaging with the brand both online and offline. The first thing that must be consistent is the brand logo — the same for the company in all its various mediums.

A style guide is also important for retailers — signage, messaging and ads both online and in stores should all be recognizably related to one another. Matching up what is available online and offline is crucial, too — it’s frustrating for a customer if they see something they like while browsing the website or looking in a physical store, and then can’t buy it from one when it was available from the other.

Alternatively, many brands opt to outline if a product or offer is exclusively available online in order to manage the offline expectations of the customer. The key thing here is to be clear about what is available through each channel.

How to use a store locator app

Store locator apps are particularly vital for the websites of  brands with multiple locations, such as gyms, salons and restaurant chains. Consumers go to a brand’s website when they want to know something specific about the physical stores, seeing the online incarnation as the main source of information.

Platforms such as BRIDGE provide industry-proven templates which can be customized to fit a company’s branding. The store locator widget can then be used by customers to either geolocate their location or search manually for the nearest physical store. Product or service search filters  meanwhile allow users to find the most suitable store for what they need.

Another benefit of a store locator is that with information readily available online, employees are free to work on other projects, more complicated online customer issues, and serve more people in the physical stores.

Keeping a local focus with a global strategy

A store locator helps to increase offline footfall, as customers can easily find the information about your stores that they require. Store locator software can also be used as part of local SEO strategy. Using local keywords and search phrases on your local pages is a sure-fire way to help you compete in online searches. Local pages enable a brand to ensure that the relevant information is available about each store, without each page being completely different in appearance and tone.

Benefits of an online to offline strategy

Rather than seeing the online and offline aspects of a brand as competing against one another, the different channels need to be considered as being symbiotic. We can think about the similarities not just in terms of being part of the same brand, but also in the convenience they offer. An online store can be more convenient for a user because they can order with a click — but a physical store also offers conveniences, such as being potentially an easier way of returning an item or discussing an issue with a member of staff.

Another benefit of this strategy is that it plays into the popularity of seeing and touching a product before buying it. One survey found that 56% of shoppers like to at least occasionally visit a store to physically see, touch and feel a product before a purchase. The fact that this part of the buying process is still so important to a lot of customers can be used to your advantage, particularly when combined with in-store offers and events.

Conclusion

Many businesses still seem to have difficulty with this ‘omni-channel’ model, treating their various sales channels as completely separate outlets rather than just different strands of the same brand. A great example of the two operating in unison is Pizza Hut, who use the BRIDGE Store Locator. You can ‘locate yourself’ or search for restaurants near to you, with the intention of physically visiting a restaurant, as well as placing a booking for a table. However you can also use the online service, placing an order for a take-out or delivery. This combination of the two, with a focus on consistency and using software such as the store locator widget, demonstrates how a brand with a large number of physical locations can succeed online, with both channels complementing each other.

 

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