Do we still need custom store locators?
When we first started brainstorming No Code Map App with friends and raised the topic of custom store locators, we definitely saw a couple of raised eyebrows. It was completely reasonable with the rise of ecommerce and Google Maps:
Over the last 10 years, we have seen a major shift in the way we shop - shopping online. I remember as a teenager, my friends and I used to hang out in shopping centres all the time - in fact some of my best memories are those afternoons we spent at the mall walking around, playing arcade games and eating at the food court. But, with the rise of ecommerce, shopping malls are closing down everywhere. This has been dubbed the "retail apocalypse". In 2019, we saw 9,302 store closings in the United States and since Covid, store closings have further intensified, and
Google Maps' search functions are more powerful and comprehensive than ever. Suffice to say most of the time, most of us search for stores near us on Google now instead of going to individual websites.
At the same time, as I have mentioned before in my earlier posts, the only custom map tool that has ready-to-use solutions is "store locators". There are a number of good options (see a comprehensive review here).
So this begs the question - are store locators becoming obsolete? Can't we just Google it?!
I think basic store locators are becoming obsolete. I think the new generation of custom store locators need to go beyond just locating a store and focus more on guiding your customers to the right product, fast.
This is especially true for companies who make a range of products and sell their products through a combination of self-own stores and distributors:
Example 1: Tillamook - a dairy co-op. They have a very nice and clearly custom made store locator with a 3 tier product filter and 2 location categories (buy it or try it).
Example 2: Impossible Food - a maker of plant-based substitutes for meat products, who sells their products through supermarkets and restaurants.
Similar logic applies to fashion retailers, beer distributors, wine makers and many more.
In other words, to remain as necessary and truly value add, they need to be more like advanced product locators rather than pure store locators. This means they need to include these custom map functions:
Filter by location category (e.g. restaurant or supermarket, "try it" or "buy it");
Filter by product / collection (e.g. cheese, milk or ice-cream); and
Search based on location and radius.
In designing our custom store locator template, we will definitely include these custom map features, so please stay tuned! :)
Hope everyone had a good Christmas!