Store locators, the only "local" part of many national retail sites, are an increasingly important part of both national and local retail sites, according to "Expectations of The Cross Channel Customer," a new study released by authoritative retail analyst Lauren Freedman of The E-Tailing Group.
Freedman found that more and more locators include store information beyond maps and directions, including standard things such as phone numbers and store hours, but also including services that directly impact the bottom line. Sales events, for instance, are increasingly featured, as well as the ability to save and personalize specific store information a la Agendize.
"Retailers, realizing the importance of store locaters as a destination, are building them more robustly with 50 percent of merchants including specialized departments, categories or services," notes Freedman. This figure is up from the 40 percent found in the firm's last survey in 3Q 2005. The report also found an increased amount of merchandising from within the locater. Fifty-six percent use it to highlight promotions within their locaters, versus 27 percent in 3Q 2005.
Freedman advises retailers to "take advantage of this heavily trafficked location to promote storewide sales, in-store events and seasonal activities." In addition to locator info, the 26-page report provides proprietary survey data and analysis on a host of Internet retail extensions, including frequent buyer programs, coupons, gift cards, online product locators, inventory programs and in-store pickups.