Picture this: A customer—let’s call her Amanda—is browsing the mobile site of an apparel retailer and finds a dress she likes. She’s almost made up her mind to buy it, but wants to try it on, just to be sure.
Amanda searches for the site’s “store locator” page so she can find the branch closest to her house. There’s just one problem: the site’s store locator isn’t easy to access. The link is buried in another menu, and when she finally lands on the page, she finds the tool cumbersome and difficult to use. Frustrated, Amanda decides to leave the site.
Now if the retailer is lucky, Amanda would just head to Google, find their nearest location, and pay a visit so she can try on the dress. However, she could just as easily give up on the purchase completely, or choose to check out a competitor’s website and buy from them instead.
Amanda’s story may be fictitious, but the above scenario happens all the time. A study by Nielsen found that “70 percent of smartphone shoppers use a store locator to plan their shopping trip.” Of those shoppers, 56% use the store locator while they’re commuting.
These numbers tell us that a site’s store locator is essential for mobile users. And most consumers who need it are likely to be on the go, which makes it even more important to optimize the tool and make sure it’s quick and easy to use.
Here are a few suggestions to help you do just that:
Have a link to your store locator on every page of your mobile site
Some mobile sites place their store locator button under a separate menu or page instead of prominently displaying it on their homepage. Don’t make the same mistake. Have a store locator button on every page of your mobile site to make it easy for visitors to find you.
Check out Wal-Mart’s mobile site. Aside from having a clear “Find a Store” link on its homepage, it also has a store locator button on its main toolbar that can be accessed on every page of the site.
Include click-to-call and click-to-map buttons
A report by PayPal Media found that 57% of mobile landing page clicks are from lower-funnel actions like click-to-map and click-to-call, indicating that these two functions are what mobile shoppers are utilizing the most.
Add click-to-call and click-to-map buttons to your store locator to enable people to get information and directions straight from their mobile device.
An example of a company doing this well is Kate Spade. The retailer’s mobile store locator has links that let users map or call Kate Spade stores with a tap of a button.
If your stores have different features, products, or hours of operation, give users the option to filter the results.
Trader Joe’s, for instance, doesn’t sell beer and wine in all of its branches, so it has a simple filter function that makes it easy for users to find the exact locations they need.
Have both list view and map view
Some users find it easier to browse locations when they’re presented in list form, while others prefer looking at a map. Make sure your site offers both.
Have a look at what Starbucks is doing. It displays a map and a list of locations in one screen, enabling users to easily browse the locations they’re looking for.
Automatically detect the user’s location (but give them the option to manually set it)
Remember, the majority of people using a store locator are on the move, so you want to make it easy for them to find what they need. One way of doing this is to automatically detect their location so they won’t have to manually enter their city or zip code. Doing so will save several taps and keystrokes and enable them to quickly zero in on the nearest store.
Of course, some users may also want to search for a branch in a specific area (say near their office) so be sure to have an option that lets them manually set their location.
Consider what Bank of America is doing. Its mobile app gives users both a manual and automatic option when locating banking centers or ATMs.
There’s no question that the store locator is one of the most important features of your mobile site. It can make the difference between a shopper heading to your store or choosing your competitor, so take the necessary steps to ensure that it’s a joy to use.
Does your mobile site have a store locator? Tell us about it in the comments!
About Francesca Nicasio
Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.