Typically we focus The Nexternal Nexus on topics purely related to online retailers. Since many online retailers also sell in a brick and mortar store, we thought it appropriate to include a topic relating to merchants with a physical location.
Many merchants get so caught up in getting people to both their online stores and physical locations that they forget to put effort into combining the two to make it easier for online shoppers to find their physical locations. Local online customers are more likely to browse your online store then go to your physical location to make the actual purchase. Fortunately, there are a few simple things merchants can do to make it easier for the web surfer to find their brick and mortar stores.
The first thing a merchant should do is claim their listing with Google Maps. This can be done in the Google Local Business Center located here: http://www.google.com/local/add/businessCenter. Google will either verify your information over the phone or via mail. The latter method can take a week or two. Besides being able to upload photos of your business, you can also create printable coupons that will appear aside your listing in Google Maps. This is a great way to get the customer to leave the computer and actually visit your store. It will also make it easy for you to know how many customers are finding you online.
While all retail brick and mortar companies should register with online directories and local chambers, another popular tool in many locations in the United States is Yelp (www.yelp.com). Yelp is a fun and easy way to find out about local businesses through customer reviews. As we all know, reviews are essential to the online shopper and a positive review can be the difference when trying to turn the shopper into and actual buyer. Assuming your customers have a great experience when visiting your location, you should considering adding your business to Yelp. Along with images and descriptions, you can also add all of your basic contact information. Users can then bookmark your business, email it to a friend or even send it to their phone. Consider asking some fans of your business to write reviews. The more people who write positive reviews, the more likely Yelp users will visit your establishment.
While there are several advanced options to consider, the last and fairly simple thing merchants should do is provide a printer friendly set of directions to their establishment on their website. The goal here is simply to make it as easy as possible for people to find you. It’s also a great idea to provide a phone number on the same page.
Although these seem like fairly common sense tasks, there are many merchants who overlook these simple steps. While setting up your business with Google Maps and Yelp will only take a small amount of time, the impact on your business should prove positive.