One of the most common applications for a mapping solution, is for a store finder / locator. It isn't uncommon for a store locator to be one of the most visited pages on a website. It is therefore very important that users are quickly able to determine the answer to several key questions:
- Where is my nearest store?
- How do I get to my nearest store?
- What are the opening hours of my nearest store? Is it open now?
- What is the telephone number of that store?
Your mapping application will most likely take the shape of a store locator, but could equally be a:
- Dealer / branch / service locator
- Route planner
- Activity finder
- A mash-up with other data sources or web API's
- A map that is embedded into your product or website that needs specific functionality.
Your most important customers are the ones who already plan to do business with you. They just need to know how to find you.
In the world of e-commerce, a store locator tells your customers you are thinking of them.
Help your customers find their nearest store online
Ultimate aim is to drive consumer spending to your products, services, and store-fronts.
1. Swiftcover Case Study
Swiftcover in conjunction with organisations such as Visit England, Walk & Cycle, KGB Deals wanted to offer a way for members of the public to share activities, events and landmarks along routes throughout the UK. By utilising Google Maps which interacted with Facebook and Spotify, the solution was able to offer an engaging and unique experience for all users.
How does it work?
Members of the public could plot routes from any part of the UK and add activities along the chosen route. Other users could see the routes with activities and if they so wished add further activities, upload pictures of the activities or share the route through Facebook. Or they could add their own individual routes.
What we did
By using Google Maps it allowed users to enter a start and destination point, which would then be plotted on to the map. Using the rarely used poly-line functionality it then displayed the route to take. Drop markers were utilised to plot the activities which were associated with the route. Leveraging custom radius functionality meant that users could also "look within 10 miles" of a destination or route for an activity. Finally it leveraged Facebook so that users could share their routes on their Facebook wall to share with friends. Check out the Roadology campaign.
2. Platform neutral solutions
Irrespective of whether your server uses php, Ruby, .Net, Java or whatever, we will be able to integrate a mapping solution with minimal technical effort on your part. We do this by creating a bespoke html/css branded mapping UI for your website (to your specifications) that can be dropped directly into your site. We can then work with you to find the most appropriate way to manage your store / mapping data. Some of the ways to do this could be:
- A database with administration area to make updates. This could be a bespoke solution depending on the complexity of the data, or leverage the power of a CMS such as Drupal. This could be hosted and manged by us, or in-house if you have the required resources and skills.
- A spreadsheet in either Excel or .csv format that can be uploaded via a simple web form to manage the map points and data.
- A Google spreadsheet that can be shared amongst key people within your team. This could then be collaboratively edited to drive real time updates to your mapping application. We have developed bespoke in-house technology to allow you to do this.
- Integration with Google Fusion tables.
3. What can you have on your map?
One of the key selling points in having a store locator developed for your company is that you can customise it and have it written to match your business requirements.
- Custom markers to show different store / location types.
- No limit to the number of locations.
- Driving directions for your customers.
- Auto detection of a users current location to show results that are local to them. This can be achieved by IP address detection and look-up, or by asking the user for permission to get their current location via Google Maps.
- Overlays on the map to show things like delivery radius, locations covered, routes etc.
- If there are a great number of places to plot on the map, then we can use paging to show the user a managable subset of data.
- Auto-zoom the map to show all plotted pins
- Search by place name, town, city, postcode etc.
- Deal with ambiguous results by offering the user did you mean style functionality
- Allow your users to download locations into a various formats such as tomtom etc.
- Mash-up with other data sources
As standard, we would make sure that your mapping application works with all modern desktop web browsers. IE7, IE8, IE9, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera.
Should you require it, we can also create a version of the application that will work with the most popular mobile and tablet devices, such as ipad, iphone and android. In developing for these non-desktop devices we will use technologies that are specific to each device such as GPRS and device specific UI features to make it as usable as possible for your customers.
Having a store finder application on your brand page driven off the same platform and data as the desktop app is a great way to get the best value for money out of your application as it puts it in front of the widest possible audience for little extra cost. Here at Zoocha we have experience of doing just that, check out the mapping application that we put together for Swiftcover.