The brick & mortar website: 10 ways to plug location into your site.

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Last week I posted about the future of websites as essentially being a database sending data out to a businesses outposts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc and then I posted about businesses who have brick and mortar outlets having a distinct advantage over purely online businesses. This got me thinking about what a website with location built into its DNA (so to speak) may look like. I came up with the following list.

  1. Real time inventory shown on in-store map – This requires RFID and then pushing that data to the web, but it would make for an interesting in-store map. Maybe the items you’re most interested in are highlighted. On-site search results could be really cool.
  2. Show those who’ve checked in – Show those that have checked in to your location and any sentiment they’ve left.
  3. Show those who’ve tweeted from your location and what they said. – Enough said.
  4. Scheduled tweetups and Swarm Badge parties- If you have events at ¬†your location – and you should – featuring them on your site is no brainer. Again, localizing your site is what we’re talking about.
  5. Live in-store video feed – Lots of businesses do this and it’s a great way to make people familiar with your store. In a passive way. Also, getting people to check out your location during one of your events would be a gerat way to get foot traffic. If Tattered Cover featured this when they had authors in, I’d definitely watch the talks if I couldn’t make it in person.
  6. Check-in based loyalty programs – Talk about the check-in based loyalty programs you offer through Gowalla and Foursquare. You do offer check-in based loyalty programs don’t you?
  7. Ability to call from the computer – Many of us have widgets installed such as Skype that let us make calls from our computer and more specifically, our browser. I now think of this as a must. (It would be fun to call in and see on the live video feed the person answer the phone.)
  8. Leader boards for check-in based services – When someone checks in on Shopkick, Foursquare, Gowalla, Whrrl, etc, you should feature them on your site. People love games and love to win. Let them show off on your site.
  9. Reviews by service, Yelp, CityGuide, Foursquare – A way to see reviews by peers for that store. (They already have this on Google Place pages. Just need to scrape it and place on your site.
  10. Virtual store tour – I’m not talking about the craptacular experience that virtual tours were in the mid 2000s. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve seen what I have in mind but it would be nice to get a tour of the store; hold the cheese.

Now. How this looks on a mobile site, is the challenge. Eventually, all of this will be built out for your Facebook presence and iPad app, but until then you could work out the kinks. Make it a ongoing project for yourself and those that frequent your location.

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I'm an Associate Teaching Professor of Digital Marketing at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. I also consult with startups and established brands. I'm currently focused on artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience and culture. I am married to an amazing woman and have two incredible children. I was raised in Colorado and spend my free time with family, biking, snowboarding and going to the Pacific Ocean to SCUBA dive and/or surf. I'm passionate about architecture, design, street art, photography and the art that tattooing has evolved into.

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