Every so often I take a break from coding and support forums to take a look around. See what the competition is doing. Learn what I can do better or discover what I am doing right. Along the way I always learn something and hope it improves my products and service. Here are what I’ve found in a brief survey of the various store finder/store locator plugins on the market. I tried to find new plugins that are specific to WordPress, but do not exclude any that are not WordPress-centric.
Below are my brief reviews of the products without installing it or buying it. This is 100% based on their marketing info, screen shots, etc. For obvious reasons I am going to have a biased opinion here, so I’d like to hear your feedback and opinions as well. Reviews are in order of discovery for the “best store locator for WordPress” search phrase.
I found this by searching for best store locator software for wordpress. My first impression is that the site feels “flat”. Sort of late 90-s in the styling. It doesn’t come across as a website that would represent a product with a good UI. Granted, my site and my product are not “apple-level” user experience, but they are not 1980′s monochrome terminal either. I felt this site is somewhere closer to the terminal UX design than what I’ve got here. But nobody is buying the website, just the product.
Since they have several options from “hosted” to “own it” I decided to check out the own it option. Holy Cow! As of this writing they want $3,750 to own their location software PLUS $550/additional site. Support is $1250/year. Ouch. Maybe I need to raise my prices!
I took a look at the features link. A lot of the features are that they support other countries. For example “U.S. Zip Codes & Street Level Mapping” is a feature, as is “European Postal Codes & Street Level mapping”. Wow.
They do offer “unlimited number of custom fields”. Boy is that sooooo on my wish list to add to my plugin. One up for them.
Fields layouts module is also a nice feature. The latest Enhanced Results gives nearly unlimited control of the below-the-map results and Store Pages does something similar for the SEO-centric page locations. I don’t know how “deep” their custom layout goes, but Store Locator Plus is well on the way.
Smart Distance – increases radius automatically if no results are found. I like that idea too and must admit I never thought of it before. Adding it to my hit list now…
They are Joomla, Mambo, and Drupal compatible. No WordPress on that list.
So no WordPress. Expensive. Some better features. Overall not a very good apples-to-apples comparison but I think SLP fares OK, especially considering it is 50x less expensive!
Advanced Store Locator
This is a Code Canyon plugin, and given the quality-of-code issues with numerous other Envato products, especially their themes, I am suspect. It also doesn’t bode well that their “live preview” site doesn’t show a map at all and most of their screen shots are extremely outdated. The price is fair, lower than mine, but I don’t see a lot of “gee whiz” features. I do like the map pins that show up in the list of store locations on the admin panel, however I am a bit concerned as to the lag that would cause when querying Google to show that on every location on a manage locations page, not too mention the hit on the daily query limit. Maybe they are doing some cool google map image grab only if/when the lat/long changes? Now THAT would be cool and efficient, but I’m not going to drop the cash on the plugin just to see if that is the case. Knowing most code shortcuts that people use and lack of performance concerns, I’m betting that is not a static screen grab.
A lot of the other features look fairly similar to those in Store Locator Plus, some of which I added and they seemed to add not long after. Maybe just a coincidence. Nothing wrong with borrowing from the competition. I’m going to.
The don’t have an import option, it appears. They charge for that as a “service”, not even an add-on you can purchase once to extend the plugin. Wonder what they charge. Bet it is at least $50. Maybe more.
It also appears they cannot do multiple maps on the same site and categorize locations. Pro Pack allows you to do that with Store Locator Plus.
Not a bad looking site. I also like the big graphic and the “Every month over 170,000 people use a store locator created with Blipstar”. LOVE that marketing. Store Locator Plus has 15,000 active locations running the plugin today. I bet there are more than 10 searches/day on average per location. I need to work that into my marketing as well. I also think I need a big graphics slider on my home page. I like big graphics and clear big fonts.
On the feature set it looks very much like the Store Locator Plus feature set. They do have an CSV export, another feature on my “really want to get this done” wish list. Only so many hours in a day and paid requests are always first. Maybe that Crowdfunding idea will take off. Not much interest in that yet though.
Their pricing is a bit unique. It is based on number of locations you enter. Up to 25 locations is free but then jumps immediately to $185/month or $15/month for up to 500 locations. Get to 4000+, like more than a handful of Store Locator Plus customers, and the price is $500/month. 10x the cost of Store Locator Plus and it is recurring monthly expenses versus a one-time expense. Yikes! They make you pay for being successful.
Bullseye Location Software
Bullseye is a bit odd. Nice website but their message is hard to find. They have “free trials” which always scare me. It is free until you get whammed for $500/month after entering all your data and spending weeks setting it up. Store Locator Plus is free and fully functional with no recurring monthly fees. You can choose to extend functionality at any time by purchase an add-on pack which is a single one-time fee to get the latest version. Let’s see if Bullseye publishes pricing.
They don’t seem to list a WordPress specific version, but do have a “website edition”. It appears it is only via an iFrame that embeds a Facebook app. Very weird. At least it is free for up to 1,000 locations. Not sure how easy it would be to integrate into WordPress though. It jumps to $45/month or $150/month after those 1,000 locations. Not crazy money but still a lot more than free or $50 1x. All the add-on packs for Store Locator Plus combined is less than $300, which is only 6 months on this service.
I do like they have a “lead management” option but only for “Enterprise Edition” which didn’t seem be on the price list. Guess I need to consider that Gravity Forms integration a bit more. A few people have asked for it recently.
Some features are out there in the field that I’d like to add. Overall, it seems like I am still doing well with competitive pricing and feature set. There is always room for improvement, so time to stop looking at the competition for today and get back to coding and support. I did get some cool new ideas and will come back to this exercise again with a different search term. Thus far “best store locator software for wordpress” seems to turn up some middling competition. I’m looking for the “Oh, I want to be just like THAT cool app” discovery so I can push my product to the next level.
Back to the code…