Maps APIs Blog
The Geo Developers blog covers all aspects of Google Maps APIs, including launches, updates and case studies
Map Tips: Build a great store locator
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Posted by David McClusky, Google Maps Solutions Architect
‘Map Tips’ are designed to answer frequently asked questions about using Google Maps APIs. For important tips on how to deploy Google’s mapping tools, read more from
, Solutions Architect at Google.
Since the launch of Google Maps APIs, developers have built useful maps to help consumers find nearby stores. Almost ten years later, store locators continue to be a primary use case for our mapping tools, but we think there’s even more developers can do with our APIs.
Here are seven helpful tips for building a beautiful, user-friendly store locator for your customers:
1. Use Autocomplete for address entry.
Google Places API
provides a search box widget with this functionality so there’s no need to parse inaccurate user entries.
2. Provide a ‘Signed-in’ experience.
, your visitors can save your store locations to view on other maps throughout the web, such as maps.google.com, and link back to your site when selected. When you
3. Automatically locate your customers using HTML5 Geolocation.
When a user arrives at a store locator page, they typically want to find a store as quickly as possible.
gives you the ability to immediately identify the location of the user and automatically present the nearest store locations within her area. Making store location as efficient and simple as possible means customers can find what they are looking for quickly and ultimately arrive at one of your stores sooner.
A great example of Geolocation is the 'Find FedEx Locations' on the FedEx website. The closest store locations are automatically displayed when the user starts searching for a FedEx location near them.
4. Provide a Street View image of your store exterior.
Using the Google
Street View Image API
, you can help guide customers to your door by providing an image of your storefront and adjacent area. The
has integrated Google Street View with its Store Locator feature, making it easier than ever for Walgreens customers to get in, get out and get on with their day. With the updated Store Locator feature, customers can easily find a Walgreens, access store details and view the store location up close.
5. Sort results by actual driving distance.
Typically, store locator databases will provide an ‘as the crow flies’ distance when performing a spatial search. In some instances this can be misleading. After performing your database search, you can re-sort the results using the
Service to obtain actual driving distances. In addition, you can provide the actual driving or transit directions right on your map using the
Service, so customers do not need to leave your application.
6. Use a large, stylized map as the focus of your application.
People think visually and spatially, so a stylized map should be the focus point of your store locator. To improve the effectiveness of your map visualization, consider using dynamic elements such as automatically highlighting markers of selected stores, or setting the zoom level automatically to capture all your markers. You can also use
to customize the presentation of the standard Google base maps to align with your store brand or visuals.
When a user selects 'Find Us' on the Tesla website, the first thing he sees is a large map automatically displaying all Tesla locations in his area.
7. Let the map drive the search experience.
Allow your users to find additional store locations as they navigate the map. Introduce an event listener on the map
event to fetch stores whenever the user pans or zooms the map around. This creates a more interactive and engaging experience for the user by not requiring text input to refine their search.
To get started quickly with some sample code, take a look at the
Store Locator Library
for the Google Maps API, which includes a fully-implemented store locator example with many of the above features included.
We hope you’re able to incorporate some of these store locator tips into your customer experience. Learn more about what
Google Maps APIs
can do for websites and applications.
5 Great Maps
Code for America
creative advertising campaigns
Custom Map Types
Google App Engine
Google Earth API
Google Maps API
Google Maps Engine
Google Places API
Google Places API Developer Challenge
Google Street View API
Map of the Week
Maps API for Flash
Maps Data API
More Than a Map
New York City
public transit layer
Spatial Data Files
Static Maps API
Google Maps Developers
Give us feedback in our
Official Google Blog
Public Policy Blog
Lat Long Blog
Ads Developer Blog
Android Developers Blog