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How to build a store locator with Google My Maps

NearPlaceNearPlace

In the guide we will tell you how easily you can create a store locator on Google My Maps step by step.


1. Menu


At the start of the guide let’s check the menu before creating anything. We have available options like:

menu-overview

Nothing more to type about the menu lets go to another step.


2. How to create a map?


If you don’t have any map yet you should just press a button “Create a new map” which is situated on the left of the menu which you saw before in the first step.

create-button

Once you click on the red button you will be sent to the other page with a big map on which you can do many things which we are going to mention later. As we are situated in the Eastern Europe the map is focused around the Poland and Czechia but it doesn’t really matter what location you choose. The most important is an effect you might create with the Google tools.

map-view

Once the map is created we might go ahead to the next step.


3. Basic options


Let’s start with the most basic option: changing a title and description of your map. Even if changing the name is an easy option, it is very important for our map to have a good title and interesting description so we advise you to think what is the aim of your new store locator at the beginning. You just need to click “untitled map” which is not hard to notice with a big red arrow aiming at it on a screen below.

create-map-settings

Once you click on the title you will see 2 empty fields: Map title and description. There is nothing to think about, you fill the gaps with the information which is important for you and let’s continue our adventure with Google My Maps.

map-name

You’ve done it! Let’s go to step 4.


4. Layers and markers


You can add the new layer in the same white box in the top-left corner which was used before when we were creating a map description and title. We can create many layers which might help us to manage all of our locations in an easy way. Especially helpful when we don’t want to display two different types of places at once. If you are still not sure where to find the button, check our screen below.

map-layers

At the beginning, let’s add two layers and name them: Poland Stores and Czechia Stores. Remember, you can change the layer title in the same way as the map title, just click on the layer name and the white box with possibility to change the name will appear immediately. As you see there is also possibility to import already done things in CSV, XLSX, KML or GPX from your computer or a Google Drive.

map-layers-finish

Remember, you might switch between the layers by clicking on them, you can notice that “Czechia Stores” layer has a blue vertical line on the left, it means that we are using currently this layer.

map-layers-choice

Now time to use markers which will help us to navigate our stores on the map. Adding a marker is really simple, but if you have many stores the process might be slow. You just need to click on the icon of a marker (below you can see where to find it) and after that, choose the point on the map where you want to place it. Once you put a marker on the map you can edit its name and description where you may add e.g. contact number or e-mail.

If you already created a marker, but in the wrong place on the map, you don’t have to remove it and start from the beginning because the marker is draggable. Just grab your marker to the right point and everything will be alright. As it was said earlier, it is really simple, but might take some time if you have many stores.

point-choice

Once you click on the created marker you can notice many possibilities:

marker-settings

marker-colour

Google offers icons for every kind of business. You may choose icons from groups like sport and recreations, places, transport, crisis, weather or even animals! There is also a search filter for them, e.g. if you type ‘dog’ in the search field it will display you 2 icons. One is a Hot Dog icon from the places group and the second one is a normal dog from animals.

marker-icons

Once you don’t like Google icons or you just want to have your own brand icon, there is a possibility to import your own icon by clicking a button “custom icon” in the bottom left corner (we are still in the window with categories of the icons) which you should notice easily without a screenshot.

store-overview

As you see it’s not that hard and it might make your store looking much better in the eyes of a customer, so we recommend to add a specific photo/logo to every store you have.

directions-map

You can also change a way of transport which customer might use to get to the specific place. There is a possibility to choose between a car, bicycle or a walk. Nice option to have because not everyone is driving a car.

directions-settings

Once you changed kind of transport which you prefer for your customers there is more options available in the case of directions. You have a possibility to open a window which shows you step-by-step how to get to the destination place. It also shows the distance in KM and how much time do we need to get to the location.

directions-finish

You need to get to 2 places or more during one day or a week? There is no problem with that because you can also add more points on the map to be directed to. Worth to mention is that it isn’t really useful option once you have to drive across the entire country, but might have some usage in the case of getting to the different points in one city/region.

directions-in-use

That’s all you can know about the marker customization in Google My Maps. It is important to customize your markers in the best way because it might bring the customers to your store locator. Hopefully we helped you with this one. To change a kind of transport you just need to click on an icon of e.g. car which you see on a screen above. Below you might see how it looks overall after you click the icon.


5. Search filter


Also in Google My Maps thanks to the search filter you have a possibility to find every place you want. It is really extended feature which is searching a place typed by you and gives you opportunity to automatically add a marker in this place. Thanks to it we don’t have to click on a map and do everything manually.

filtered-search

Once you choose region which interests you, Google will ask you if you want to add a marker to this place. Once you agree the mark will be automatically added to the current layer you are using.

filter-settings

You can also view the location on the Google Maps if you want to read something about the place you have chosen and see which photos are available with the current location. Above of the “Add to map button” you might notice a link “View in Google Maps” once you click it you will see everything we mentioned earlier.

filtered-region

To describe the feature more clearly for you we have prepared our own layer with all voivodeships of Poland.

filtered-voivodeship

Now if you click the preview button about which we will type later, you can see a different photos for every voivodeship prepared by Google Maps.

filtered-view


6. Drawing


If you think there is finally some special category for artists, sadly you are wrong. Drawing feature in Google my Maps is really useful when you want to show the specific region, or divide country e.g. by voivodeships but not really useful for drawing beautiful works of art.

add-line-or-shape

After clicking “Add line or shape” you will have a possibility to draw straight lines, if you want to have very detailed view with perfect borders you should leave small gaps between points you draw then you can create something like a template for the region which you want to create.

shape-selection

But once you make bigger gaps between the points and there aren’t that many of them you get an other interesting view(screen below).

drawing-map

You saw both of the drawing possibilities and both are really interesting and helpful when you want to mark e.g. region where your store is delivering products. Lines customization works in the same way as marker customization. To be honest it is helpful option but it is exhausting to make good lines which will perfectly cover your region. In our opinion there are better apps to do it.


7. Base map choice


Another simple option which, will allow you to choose the base map for your store locator. You have a possibility to choose between nine different map styles so you should be able to find one for you. There are available darker and lighter schemes so the choice is really various.

base-map

We chose one to show you how the map might change compared to the earlier one (screen below).

map-choice

Once you have checked basic maps and picked the best one for yourself let’s go to the other step.


8. Preview


Once you are done with editing your store locator you have a possibility to click a button “Preview”(an icon with the eye). Thanks to pressing the button you can easily see how your store locator would look on the Google Maps.

preview-button

Once you are redirected to Google Maps you can see everything you created on the map and after a clicking on the mark you receive all the information about the store on the left side of the screen. Thanks to it you can check how the customer will see your map or markers, and it might help you to avoid some mistakes like wrong location or wrong photos. Summarising preview mode is a version of your store locator which will be displayed to other people once you share it for a public view or to a specific person.

store-preview


9. Share


Last option which might be really useful is a share feature which will allow you to show the map to the others. You just need to click a share button.

share-basics

You can also set who is going to get a permission to see your link. You have 5 different options:

share-settings

Of course you should notice the link to share on the top of the box. Below you can have a look who has the access to the map.

Once you want to share the location of your place to be displayed on Google Maps you need to open Google Maps, and the best way is to paste coordinates of your marker to the search field. Once you do that on the left side of the window you should have option “share” which will allow you to generate the Google link which you can paste in your Google My Maps.

share-button

share-card


10. Summary


Google My Maps is a nice and simple solution which allows you to create your own store locator. The question is if you should bother with it? You need to spend a lot of time on setting everything for your preferences and you have only basic features to use. Google My Maps is better for creating beautiful maps and planning your trip where you can mark some interesting places for sightseeing, places where you want to spend a night or restaurants to eat some local food.

If you have never read about the store locator, there are available professional apps by professional developers which allow you to create a store locator in a really short matter of time for free (mostly basic features) or you need to pay some money for them (really extended features). One of these apps is a Nearplace, which, allows a user to add every store and its information faster and more comfortable than Google my Maps. Also, you have a lot of features which might make your store much more competitive and attractive.

You can use Narplace and its basic add-ons immediately after registering on the page without any cost. The best thing is you can have unlimited number of locations even with a free version of the app! Once you want to compete with the best store locators we advise you to buy a premium add-ons for really reasonable price.

Summarising Google My Maps is a nice to have store locator for beginners or small stores, but once you want something professional for serious customers you should choose Nearplace. On the screenshot below you can check how nice and easy Nearplace looks.

Nearplace-look

Once you want to read more about professional apps check our articles about the other store locators for WordPress and Shopify websites.