If you manage, or are building a website for a business with physical premises, then adding a store locator is a great idea. The plugins available allow you to enter the details of multiple stores or offices and then make it very easy for your website visitors to find the one nearest to them.
As these plugins use Google Maps , your users will get access to all of the excellent features that are part of that service. This includes the different views and the ability to easily generate directions from a specific starting point.
However, even if you aren’t running a website for an online store, these location finder plugins can still be used to enhance the usefulness of your site. By adding the locations of interesting landmarks, places of local interest, or businesses related to your site’s topic, you can help your readers find the information they are looking for. If your site features any kind of list or directory of service providers, then one of these plugins can be really useful.
Building a Store Locator
When it comes to adding a store locator to your WordPress site there are a number of plugins available, but today we are going to be looking at the free Store Locator Plus plugin and seeing just how quickly you can add this feature to your website.
Store Locator Plus
For this guide to adding a store locator to your website, we are going to use the free Store Locator Plus plugin. It’s one of the most popular store locator plugins available with over 100,000 downloads and a 4.4 out of 5 star rating. There are of course other store locator plugins out there, but this one is a good choice due to its wealth of features, regular updates, and popular rating.
Once you’ve installed the plugin (Plugins > Add New) and activated it, the features can then be accessed from the Store Locator Plus admin menu item.
There’s a lot of information, options and settings displayed on the plugin dashboard, but to get started as quick as possible, jump straight to the Add Location page found under the Locations tab.
From here you can add as much information as you have on the store or location that you want to add to the map. The plugin is pretty forgiving so you don’t have to enter all the information to still get a hit. For example, if you don’t have the latitude or longitude coordinates don’t worry – your location can probably still be found.
When a location is found on Google Maps by the plugin, using the information you entered, the rest of fields, such as latitude and longitude will be populated on your behalf.
Once you’ve added a few locations to your list, you can view the plugin in action to check everything is working as you’d envisioned. To add the store locator to your WordPress site, simply create a new page or post and then enter the plugin shortcode:
Once that page loads, your visitors will be presented with the search field to enter their address or current location, along with the ability to set a maximum distance from where they are.
Once the user has carried out a search, the Google Map will sweep to their location and any stores within the entered radius will be displayed. As the plugin uses Google Maps, all the functionality of this application is available, such as zooming in, changing the view, and getting directions to the stores shown in the search results.
Furthermore, the stores located within the specified radius of the user’s location are listed underneath the map, displaying the details that were entered when adding the store. These locations are sorted by distance from the user’s specified location.
Now your site has a useful location finder and listing feature to help the visitors to your site find their way to your stores, restaurants, place of business, or other notable locations.
Further Enhancing Your Store Locator
For most users the above steps will be enough to create their store locator, however there are of course more features of the Store Locator plugin.
If you want to tweak the appearance of the plugin, from the User Experience tab, you can edit the search form text to make it more suited to your visitors and your site.
When it comes to customising how the integrated Google Map is displayed on your site, you have plenty of options for setting it up the way you want. This includes setting the start location of the map, editing the map’s dimensions, choosing the default map type, and selecting a map marker from the bundled icons.
There are also options to customise how the results are displayed, including setting the results labels that are shown for each store. These settings allow you to add your own label text to better tailor the service to your site, country, and target audience.
The Store Locator plugin also comes with a good selection of bundled themes for styling the appearance of the search form and results pages.
Available Add-Ons for Store Locator
If you want to make your store locator even better, then there are some free and premium add-ons available for this plugin. Some highlights include:
- Enhanced Map
- Enhanced Search
- Enhanced Results
- Widgets for Sidebars
- Store Pages
- Bulk Location Import
So while the out of the box functionality of Store Locator has everything you need, it can be greatly enhanced for a more personalised and professional experience. The plugin is also well supported with lots of online documentation and the option to access the paid support on an ad-hoc basis.
Other Store Locator Plugins
Store Locator Plus isn’t the only show in town when it comes to adding this feature to your WordPress website. Here are some more options to help you make it easier for your customers, readers, and followers to find your locations:
- Custom Store Locator – WP Store Finder Plugin – budget premium option with lots of different templates and styling options
- WordPress Store Locator – most downloaded free plugin but with a user rating of 3.5 out of 5
- Gwebpro Store Locator – free option for adding a location finder to your site
- SimpleMap Store Locator – another free option with some additional features
While Store Locator Plus looks like the best option out of the box, and with plenty of add-ons available for expanding its features, it’s still worth taking a look at the competition and see if they better suit your own specific requirements.
As you’ve just seen adding a store locator to your site is very easy and can be done for free using the very capable Store Locator Plus plugin. This and the other plugins available for adding this feature to your site are pretty flexible and allow you to add the details of any kind of establishment or landmark to your listings; they aren’t just limited to stores.
So whether you are running a website for a store, or just want to list the locations of any notable places on your site and them make them easily findable by your audience, using the great features of Google Maps, these plugins can help you out.
What are you planning to use one of these location finder plugins for on your site?