We're delighted to announce that we've now integrated the Google Places API with our store locator service. Places are what Google calls locations in Google Maps such as business locations. The Google Places API is a way of directly querying Places that exist in Google Maps so that customers can search for them in your locator without you having to upload them to your store list.
An example of where this would be useful is if your product was sold at all Walgreens locations in the US. There are around 10,000 Walgreens stores so prior to the new Places API integration feature you would need to get a copy of the store list from Walgreens, upload it to your locator and ensure that it was kept up to date.
Instead, you can set up a Places search by setting the Places search type to 'Pharmacy' and adding a Places query of 'Walgreens'. Once this is configured, when your store locator visitors search for an address, the locator software will send a request to Google for any pharmacies in the vicinity of the searched location named Walgreens and return the 20 closest matching results.
If your product is sold by multiple chains, you can use the Boolean search operator 'OR' to combine queries. For example, 'CVS OR Walgreens' would search for any CVS or Walgreens stores as shown below:
You can also mix and match uploaded stores with the Google Places API searches. For example, if your product is sold by both independent retailers and large chains, you could upload a list of the independent retailers who carry your product to your store locator as before and then additionally list the chains who stock your product using the Google Places search capability. This way you get the best of both possible worlds.
One thing to bear in mind is that each Google Places API lookup costs 0.032 USD (3.2 cents). This is in addition to any existing costs incurred for the use of the Google Maps service. Working out your expected costs for using the various mapping services is complicated so please get in touch with us if you have any questions about this!