By Daniel Vidoni
A postcode based store finding system can make a big difference to your business
It's elementary when you think about it; Make it as easy and painless as possible for your clients to buy your product, and you will be more successful. Most business people will agree that anything you can do which streamlines the process of bringing your clients and products together is valuable to your business.
Companies spend millions of dollars every year finding new and better ways to achieve this. They run immensely expensive advertising campaigns, employ clever marketing tricks, open more and more retail outlets for their products in prime locations, provide a myriad of payment methods, the list goes on and on. The purpose behind all of these strategies is to attract clients to the product in order to facilitate an exchange.
Your client's needs are simple
Ironically one of the more overlooked and obvious ways of putting clients and product together is to simply tell the client where the product is located - where they can buy it. I don't think it's much use saying "where-ever all good books are sold", people want to know the nearest location where they can buy the book is. The easier you can make this for them and the more likely they will follow through and a sale can occur.
Some case studies
I think a good example of this is service stations. Service stations are everywhere, but where is the nearest service station to ME with the best price? The answer to this question is valuable. Why? Because it saves me time and money.
Another example is a wholesale business which sells Italian shoes. They have 300 retail outlets across Australia. They have a website which allows their retailers to log in and order stock on-line, and it also allows the public to browse their catalogue of products. Unfortunately they have no easy way of telling visitors where the nearest retail outlet is where they can purchase their products. Their website therefore tells the prospective customer everything they need to know except where they can buy the product. In essence, it promotes the product, but it doesn't close the sale.
Finding the nearest retail outlets
A traditional solution to this problem is having long lists of retail outlets organised by state. This usually results in very long lists which are difficult to maintain and difficult for visitors to search. The whole thing is very messy and time consuming. These lists are almost always in alphabetical order by suburb, but there is no way to relate any of the suburbs back to the visitor's location. They need to manually seek all the suburbs which they are familiar with in the vicinity.
Another potential way out is to use some kind of search system which allows you to type in the suburb and the website will initiate a search to find the retailer in that suburb. The trouble is that suburbs are often misspelled or abbreviated in nonstandard ways. This means the system won't recognise it and so it either returns nothing or presents you with a list of possible matches which you then need to go through.
It's also worth mentioning at this point that by exposing all of your retail outlets in a single publicly available list, it makes it easy for your competitors to know exactly how your business is working and which organisations support you. The list essentially becomes a direct marketing tool for anybody with five minutes to spare to cut and paste the list into a database of their own.
A better way is to allow the visitor to enter the postcode in which they live and to use clever technology to figure out where the nearest retail outlet to them is located. While you're at it you may as well return to top three nearest retailers so they can choose for themselves which the most convenient is for them (remembering that having choice is very important to most people). If you're exceedingly clever you can also figure out the actual distance in kilometres from the desired postcode to the returned values. This gives the visitor even more information about the retail outlet allowing them to make a fully informed decision.
This is exactly what Store Finder does and does it very well and very quickly, typically taking less than a second to search its entire database of retailers and return a useful list of nearest outlets to the customer.
Store Finder is not a toy or a gimmick but a fully fledged commercial solution to a widely overlooked problem. It transforms a web presence website into a dynamic and useful receptionist service routing clients quickly to their nearest point of sale. It saves managers and secretaries time and therefore money. It saves clients aggravation and makes them act more decisively.
The other terrific thing about this product is you don't need to be a web specialist to set it up or to use it. The retail outlets are all stored in a simple Excel spreadsheet and uploaded using an online upload form. If you've ever used webmail services such as Hotmail or Yahoo mail then you will have no trouble using Store Finder.
Try store finder - but be warned there is no going back!
There is really no need to take my word for any of this; you can try Store Finder for free anytime you want by subscribing to the fully functional trial service. It can make a really big difference to your business especially when combined with other marketing strategies. It's a simple and elegant solution which has been tried and tested on many web sites with a variety of needs. Try it today and see for yourself!