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Retailers that use both physical stores and eCommerce websites for sales are recognizing the value of integrating their platforms into an omnichannel experience rather than having two isolated sales channels. One simple step to connecting an online store to physical locations is having an accessible store locator.
Of the 215 retail chains ranked in the top 1000 online retailers, 186 of them included store locators, as reported by Digital Commerce 360. For stores with multiple locations, it’s a no-brainer to help customers find your stores when searching online. Here are the most important reasons why a store locator is an essential eCommerce extension for retailer websites and apps.
Increase Traffic to Your Stores
It’s a mistake to think that online and physical shoppers are not connected. Shoppers in stores compare prices on their smartphones and searchers online look for stores near them to check out. Nielsen reports that 70% of smartphone shoppers make use of a store locator when shopping. Whether they’re shopping on your website or searching your brand name online, a store locator page on your website will let them locate the nearest store to their location, bringing in more customers who will make purchases on the spot.
Increase Use of Your Website
Search engines are extremely capable at delivering local search. In 2019, 90% of customers used the Internet to find a local business in the last year and 33% do so every day, according to a BrightLocal survey. Customers searching “(your brand) near me” will bring customers looking for store locations to your website, so in addition to directing them to the right store, you will increase your traffic and gain the opportunity to reach new customers for website sales.
Offer Immediate Results to Customers in a Hurry
A store locator can show the nearest store locations on a map, provide their addresses, and give directions. It should also show the hours of operation and services offered at those locations. For customers who need to buy something today, knowing that a nearby store is open will influence their decision to buy right away rather than wait for a product to be shipped online, even overriding other considerations like price comparison.
Enhance your ‘Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store’ Experience
Buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) is a hybrid approach to sales that’s increasingly popular due to the pandemic. Customers who buy online can be sure that the product is in stock so they can avoid browsing for what they need, and can pick up at their own convenience without having to wait for shipping. Store locators that can show customers the nearest open location can encourage BOPIS sales and bring value to both the physical and online stores at once.
Answer Questions Without Employee Contact
Some of the most common customer service questions are about where stores are located and when they are open. Customers can avoid having to call unnecessarily if this information is available in the store locator, which also saves your employees time in answering questions.
Improve Online Market Research
Collecting customer data from online store visits improves your knowledge of your customer base, helping you shape your strategy. Learn where your customers accessing the store locator are coming from, which physical stores are viewed the most, and whether customers who use the store locator end up buying online. Learn if certain stores should be prioritized or stay open for longer, and craft call-to-actions for customers visiting the website.
Encourage Switch to Mobile Apps
If customers need to locate your stores regularly, being able to do so quickly and conveniently is a valuable feature to include in your mobile app. Getting smartphone users to use your app will lead to an increase in sales; according to Button’s 2019 report, mobile apps had an 86% higher conversion rate compared to mobile web stores.
Customers are looking online for store locations, so it’s vital to have a store locator on your site. Connecting your online store to your physical locations will help create loyal customers who shop with you regardless of the sales channel.