Store locator software has come a long way since the beginning of the internet. Store locators started off as downloadable products that searched for locations within a mile radius. The downloadable products were limited in that they needed to be compatible with the technology they ran on. These products also tended to be limited in the features they offered, as it was difficult for software developers to keep adding features to their downloadable products before Web 2.0.
With the adoption of cloud based applications, it become much easier to provide feature rich locator solutions since developers could maintain a single set of code on one platform. This also meant that it was less likely for companies to require a custom solution since cloud based applications tend to be more feature rich.
Now companies could get a variety of features out of the box, including filtering by product, IP detection (returning search results based on the geography of the searcher), reporting, driving directions, and preferred locations to name a few.
Nowadays, the scope of locator implementations have expanded beyond the type zip code search.
An example of this extension would be the implementation of individual location pages for SEO purposes. Comprehensive location solutions will allow companies to implement individual location pages complete with title tag, meta description, and page content to display search results in search engines, conceivably helping the user to find the company’s dealer before they arrive at the site. This makes searching more convenient for the user.
The inclusion of SEO optimized locations pages is often overlooked by companies who are implementing a locator on their website. Advertising agencies are in a position to point out the benefit of implementing these optimized pages to their clients.
Marketing agencies can take things further by including locator functionality in other marketing endeavors, such as email marketing campaigns. A comprehensive store locator solution will include an API that can be called to help facilitate this. If can be possible to embed a contact’s local stores in an email, assuming he company has the contact’s address or zip code information stored in a database. Note that it is also possible to simply send an email that links to a web-based store locator, but this approach requires further action from the user (clicking the link in the email). By embedding the dealers directly in the email, more users will view the dealers because only a fraction of the recipients will click on the link.
Another way to extend this store locator software is to provide a locator on a client’s Facebook page. Typically, Facebook-based locators do not get nearly as much traffic as web-based locators. However, Facebook locators provide another convenient way to help companies drive locator traffic. In addition, providing a Facebook locator gives a company real value on their Facebook page (another reason for customers to like that page.
To extend the locator even further, it is possible to implement a Facebook locator that allows searchers to like individual locations. While a national chain obviously wants to get likes on their main Facebook page, getting likes for individual outlets may be even more desirable since non-online sales occur at the local outlets. This approach leverages social web more effectively than a traditional locator.
Marketing companies have an opportunity to extend store locators to generate business in ways that traditional store locators don’t cover. This functionality often will not be requested by the client. It is helpful for marketing companies to partner with a store locator software partner to bring these innovative possibilities to light.