Store Locator Software – When Should I Switch to a Zip Code Based Locator?

Most companies who sell through a distribution network include some kind of store locator on their site. If a company offers a product through a geographically dispersed dealer network, it becomes paramount to make it easy for potential customers to find the company’s stores because there may be many stores for the customer to sort through. A zip code based store locator will fulfill this need.

Web savvy users who want to buy the product you are offering will want to find a store quickly. When a company’s list approaches 50-100 dealers, it is worth considering a zip code based locator, depending on how densely the locations are dispersed. Usually, store locator software is configured to allow users to type in a zip code, choose a mile radius, and return local stores within the radius. Companies should not implement a zip code and radius based locator if the locations are so sparse that users often won’t get search results when they do a search.

With store locator software, you can manage dealers much easier than on a static html page which needs to be updated each time a dealer joins the network. With store locator software, updates are usually uploaded in excel or entered directly through an internet browser. This way, business owners don’t have to wait for technical staff to make the updates.

A company’s image is further enhanced with the inclusion of a radius based locator, as this generally looks more professional than a long list of dealers. Further, publishing a company’s entire list of dealers on a static page makes it easy for a company’s competition to harvest the dealer information. Sometimes competition will try to market to your dealer base, and a static list on a website makes this very easy.

Fear of your competition marketing to your dealers should not deter a business from putting a locator on the website it most cases. The benefit of sending potential customers to stores within a company’s distribution network over the internet usually takes priority. It will take much more effort for your competition to get a hold of your dealer list if your dealers are in a zip code based locator, as opposed to a list on a page.

Store Locator Software is available in downloadable versions (host on your website or server) or service version (a company provides a solution they host for you). Downloadable versions generally have a one-time fee for the software, and have a recurring charge for zip code data updates. With a hosted service solution, you generally pay a monthly or yearly fee and postal updates are included in the service charge.

A Comparison of 7z and Traditional Zip

The traditional ZIP format is very popular, but it’s not necessarily the best. The open source free utility 7z has developed its own far superior 7z (7 ZIP) format. While 7z is new in the market, it is slowly gaining popularity due to its simple interface, added security, and efficient functionality.

7z is far more efficient than the traditional ZIP format. I performed a small experiment that you can easily replicate to verify my statement. For my experiment, the folder that I used was originally about 65 MB; it contained Microsoft office files and also a few tiny ZIP files. First, I compressed it using the traditional ZIP format in the windows explorer. The file compressed and its size shrank to 8,881 KB. Then, I used 7z to compress that same folder and it was compressed to 6036 KB. This is a difference of almost 3 MB which is more than 25%. This difference is phenomenal and surprising considering the popularity of ZIP in the market.

ZIP dominates the market because it has been used for years. If you send someone a ZIP file he’ll know what it is and he’ll easily handle it, but most people won’t recognize a 7z compressed file even if they see one. Despite the market dominance of ZIP, it still cannot be considered to be as efficient as the 7z format.

ZIP file has a disadvantage that many email providers like yahoo, Gmail, and Hotmail can read the contents of your ZIP file and they won’t let you send it if it contains any executable (.exe) file. Whereas the files that have been compressed with 7z cannot be broken into by emails, and thus you can send anything that you want. This shows us that files compressed with 7z are far more secure than traditional ZIP files.

7z is extremely easy to use. It offers a simple and user-friendly interface. When you launch 7z you will see a list of some files along with toolbars and menus. It does not include any annoying interruptions like wizards, ads, or welcome dialogues. If you need a slightly different look then press F7 and F9; the 7z will transform into a dual-pane basic file manager. I personally prefer working in the default format.

7z has a simple interface, and you can probably find a better interface in some other software but when it comes to compression, the basic purpose 7z was designed for, then there is no software that can perform better than 7z itself.

The Reasons CASS Software Will Have Profound Uses For Your Business Mailing Lists

CASS certification is the process where the address zip plus 4 gets matched to the USPS master list. Even when there are errors in the address the CASS software can perform a correct match which is why this also helps to fix incorrect addresses. The purpose of this certification and why one would use it to get the most accurate addresses is for bulk mailers who choose to use a bar code and want a discount. If one of these mass mailers can accurately represent 9 digit zip codes on the bar code of their mailings than the USPS will accept your barcodes as accurate if you show that you have recently matched your address list against their master 9-digit zip code list. The USPS has to match this may not require a CASS report to prove the zip plus 4 check was done on this particular mailing, but the report must be saved in case they check on it.

From the USPS standpoint the reason they will give a discount on the bulk mailings is because the majority of the time they have to spend sorting the mailing is eliminated with the accurate bar codes. The less the handling time the more likely one will receive a discount on the mailing overall. One could estimate about a 3 cent discount per piece of mail if the batch has been run through the CASS certification software. The higher savings will result in mass mailing all going within the same zip code as opposed to scattered around the state or country.

In order to get the barcoded pricing, you must do everything you need to do for regular bulk mail prices and more.

First, you must have accurate 9-digit zip codes for as many of your addresses as possible. You don’t need to do this every time you prepare a bulk mailing, but you must do this the first time you mail using barcode, After that at least one time every six months thereafter for each of the addresses on your lists.

The addresses that cannot be matched with an accurate 9-digit zip code cannot be barcoded. If you are mailing flat correspondence than you can mix non barcoded and barcoded pieces in the same mailing, which is called a “co-sacked” mailing. For mailing letter-sized pieces, any pieces you cannot barcode must be mailed separately.

It may be worth it to invest in these types of solutions. For many businesses their clients are all in a general area and by mailing more than 150 pieces of mail you can qualify for additional discounts the more accurate and simple you can make your mailing. The CASS software really enables the post office to quickly handle your mailing and with the appropriate reporting you can safe your self a few pennies for letter. If you are mailing a hundred thousand or more at a time you can see the saving and benefits add up quickly. Plus you also get the benefits if higher delivery rates as the addresses are more accurate this way.