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.