Store locators help you effectively compete in local search and guide customers to your stores with useful, accurate information. Improve offline conversions by adding an interactive, customizable store locator app to your website.
Once a nice-to-have, a shop locator app is now a must-have for any medium or large brand, especially rapidly growing ones looking to open a raft of new locations. This blog post explains what a store locator app is, how a store locator app can benefit your business and ultimately improve your sales performance.
What is a store locator app?
Although we are using the word ‘app’, we don’t mean that a shop locator app is something that you would grab from an app directory. It’s a platform that you add to your website that helps site visitors find the locations of your stores, typically by entering an address or post code. On smartphones, visitors can use their device’s location to accurately find the stores closest to them.
Importantly, good store locator apps are designed to be responsive for both desktop and mobile devices. Mobile-first indexing is now incredibly important - Google is moving towards using the mobile pages of a site’s content to rank pages from that site. What’s more, given most local searches are mobile, having a mobile-friendly store locator app provides massive value to the customer - they won’t have to struggle their way around a website that can’t adapt for mobile.
That’s a broad definition of a store locator. They also:
- Provide customers with relevant information, like opening and closing times
- Incentivize people to visit your stores by listing special offers and discounts
- Include local keywords so you can compete in local search
- Help customers find and buy products - add product locator software to a shop locator to encourage sales
What are the benefits of a shop locator app?
- Boost footfall - store locators help customers get to your stores. By definition, they will have a demonstrable impact on the number of people searching for your stores online, then visiting them offline
- Learn more about your stores - good store locator services come built with analytics, meaning you can measure performance, seeing which stores are popular and which aren’t. This will give you useful knowledge you can use when you plan for new sites
- Compete in local search - because people are increasingly using local search phrases when they search for things (e.g. ‘bike repair in Hoboken’), building a strong local SEO presence is crucial. Store locators help you do that by adding localized keywords to store results pages
- Don’t waste any more time - publishing important store information online (like opening times) means your customers don’t need to ring you up or email you to get this essential info. That means your team can be better deployed elsewhere
How do store locators affect commercial performance?
Store locators have an important role to play in what’s known as online to offline marketing, or O2O. This is a marketing strategy focused on bringing together, rather than separating, the digital and physical shopping worlds. Instead of viewing online and offline worlds as unrelated, O2O strategies see them as being intertwined.
Think of a store locator app as the bridge between these two spheres. A customer searches for one of your stores online – from their smartphone or laptop – gets information about the stores nearest to them, then physically visits their nearest and, hopefully, makes a purchase. That, in essence, is how O2O marketing works. And when you consider that 76% of people who search for something online visit a store the very same day, O2O emerges as a very attractive strategy.
As we said earlier, store locator apps can be about much more than where a customer gets information from. They can also be places where a customer gets inspiration in the form of rich content, and incentivization in the form of special offers and discounts that they can use in physical stores. This, in turn, has the potential to have a positive effect on your in-store sales.
What should I look for in a store locator app?
There are many store locator services available today. The best ones are:
- Easy to set up - choose an industry-leading store locator app and you’ll likely find that no coding is needed at all
- Optimized for mobile - mobile-friendly layout and geolocation
- Functional - easy to add and manage new stores to the database and the ability to add international stores, too
- Have UX at its core - built with the user in mind, make sure it’s easy to navigate and simple to use
Are you interested in learning how a Store Locator platform can help youy enhance the online to offline customer journey?
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