•  October 16, 2020

    10 Things to Consider When Building a Store Locator With Google Maps APIs

    This article was originally published by Applied Geographics Inc. (AppGeo), a company acquired by The Sanborn Map Company Inc in September 2022.

    Commercial, government, and utility organizations have the need to show the locations of their stores or services to make it easy for customers to connect and find the services they seek. Now, during the pandemic, more than ever people are seeking services near their places of residence, the “great localization”. They are looking for convenience and safety, and they are looking for new types of services – medical testing centers, home delivery, pick-up points, recreational options, and more. Even more, the pandemic is changing the local landscape itself; some businesses have closed, some have changed their hours of operation, some are providing new services such as home delivery. Providing mapped data about the location of available services increases consumer confidence, and boosts consumption for savvy businesses and government services providers.

    How do I create a store locator with Google Maps?

    “Store Locator” applications are relatively easy to implement using the Google Maps Platform. All too often, a poorly implemented store locator creates a cumbersome experience. A well-designed store locator boosts the effectiveness of your website and answers the key question of how to find your office, services or stores. For optimal impact to the bottom line, here are ten things you should consider when building a store locator app using Google Maps APIs:

    1. Minimize the number of clicks required to find relevant information.
    2. Provide intuitive filters to present only viable locations.
    3. Drive search with user location, address location, or select a point on the map
    4. Context sensitive controls between the map and tabular list provide a streamlined and intuitive experience in exploring locations.
    5. Keep the user on the page by providing all the information required, including hours open, contact info, services provided, appointment scheduling, relevant images, and travel distance.
    6. Link to consumer Google Maps for directions.
    7. Include administrative tools to maintain location data and configure filtering options.
    8. Minimize Google Maps API charges by optimizing the number of API calls made.
    9. Style maps to focus the user’s attention on the relevant locations, optionally align with the organization’s branding, and de-clutter the map to improve readability.
    10. Remove IT overhead by hosting in the Google Cloud.

    How do I get help for my developer team to make the best store locator map for my business?

    • Work with a Google Partner. Google partners have the necessary expertise, experience, and certifications with Google Maps and Cloud platforms. But not all partners are created equal. Some partners, like AppGeo, are specialized in Location-Based Services, and they excel at working with and building on the Google Maps Platform, helping your team work faster and smarter.
    • Set up a collaborative relationship to get your team’s questions answered fast. Much of the application development using the Google Maps Platform APIs can be handled by your development team. The APIs were designed to make it easy to incorporate them into applications. But when developers have a question, they cannot afford to wait. Establishing a line of communication with a Google Partner expert can be the productivity boost and problem solving support your team needs. AppGeo has a special program, called Spatial IQ, designed just for this purpose: when you sign up for Spatial IQ your developers can access on-call technical support and other helpful services.
    • Be prepared to tackle the tougher use cases and functional requirements. Sometimes your team needs expert advice and help navigating the Google Terms of Service. Sometimes they want to bounce a new idea off an experienced colleague. They need to know: Has my idea been done before; are there any shortcuts or pitfalls? Does this particular Google Maps API support my use case? Does Google allow me to use the API for this purpose? Strategic, technical advice at the exploration and design stage can streamline developer effort and prevent a lot of wasted time. Having worked with hundreds of Google Maps Platform subscribers, AppGeo is prepared for your call.
    • Add capacity to your development team by taking advantage of AppGeo’s Buy don’t DIY services. AppGeo maintains a team of full-time, full stack engineers and developers who are conversant in Google Maps and Google Cloud Platforms, other geospatial IT, and a variety of development environments. AppGeo can build for you, to your specification, thereby saving your team time and money. Having worked with many Google customers in a variety of industries, we have relevant insights and experience to accelerate development and shorten the time to launch for any custom built applications for your organization. Plus, with AppGeo in your corner, we’ll make sure that anything we build for you stays current with Google technology, Terms of Service, and optimization potential.

    For more information about mapping platforms, download our 2022 Mapping Platform API Comparison Guide.

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