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Composable Commerce: how to build an In-Store Product Search Kiosk and Store Locator

Sep 20th 2021 ecommerce

Composable Commerce: how to build an In-Store Product Search Kiosk and Store Locator

Continuing with our series on composable commerce, we’ll demonstrate two apps that bring together the increasingly popular combination of online and physical shopping. Imagine. Shoppers in a busy retail store want to know if a product is available in a different color. Instead of waiting for an available sales representative, they independently find all the stock information at the in-store kiosk. If the product is not available in their current store, they conveniently pull out their phone and find the same product online in a nearby location. They order the item and pick it up on their way home. This is the perfect coupling of an in-store kiosk (an online inventory lookup) with a click and collect store locator. Convenience for the customer: no extra traveling, no waiting for a delivery. And the brand makes the sale and earns the customer’s longtime loyalty.

Let’s look at these apps more closely.

In-store kiosk 

App: Product Search Kiosks

Medium: In-store

Goal/problem solved: 

  • Browse the inventory independently
  • Retrieve product details and availability in current and other stores instantly

Main users: 

  • In-store customers
  • Store assistants

Blend the online shopping convenience into the shoppers’ in-store experience. Following the rise of online shopping, customers’ shopping habits greatly evolved. They prefer independent research over asking a sales associate for help. Give shoppers an option of browsing store inventory with product search kiosks. Empower customers with the ability to instantly find accurate and reliable answers to their questions: retrieve product details and product availability in current or nearby stores. Whether a customer is looking for a specific garment color, washing instructions, or matching outfit suggestions – this information is now made available to them in-store just the way it is online.

The product search kiosk implementation tackles the most difficult technical challenges a retail store might have:

  • Availability must be updated every 15 min, and prices every day
  • Data comes from various sources: different catalogs (store, national, global), and different types of data come from different sources (items, availability, price, product images, and other media assets)
  • Multi-index search: one index per country for stock management, and one index per language for product info 
  • Every catalog available in every language of countries where the retailer is present
  • Geo replication of data, and the ability to have the app everywhere in the world

Algolia serves as a product data platform for a best-in-class in-store product search kiosk app for retailers. 

  • Business value
    • Using synonyms to overcome product data limitations and to propose relevant products more easily to shoppers (e.g., “exotic” as a synonym for “crocodile” and “ostrich”)
    • Merchandising the product catalog to execute on your campaigns, or to showcase the latest items in the in-store kiosk
    • Speed, relevance, typo tolerance, filter and facets, and more, all contribute to a frictionless experience for store associates when they advice shoppers
    • The Kiosk app allows shoppers to discover items they hadn’t initially thought about
  • Technical value
    • Leveraging Algolia’s strong APIs to aggregate all product data in Algolia to deliver a great experience
    • Algolia reliability and scalability allow retailers to use our platform at a global scale
    • Algolia API-first approach allows for easy implementation everywhere due to the platform and programming language-agnostic software architecture.

Store Locator

App: Store Locator with “Buy Online, Pickup at Store” Functionality

Medium: Online/Remote

Goal/problem solved: 

  • Smooth integration between online and offline shopping experience
  • Streamlined stock availability information retrieval, eliminating the need for in-person/phone inquiries with store associates
  • Eliminating customer frustration due to discovering products out of stock at the physical store
  • Shopping flexibility that allows multiple choice options for product delivery:
    • Shop online and pick-up in a local store if the item is available faster than through regular shipping timelines
    • Shop online and pick-up in a neighboring store if the item is unavailable in the closest store
    • Shop online and pick-up in the destination location, if you are traveling and the item will not be available by your departure date
  • Adaptation to the user shopping habits due to COVID-19 related concerns:
    • Customers who are unable to shop in a physical store are able to easily pick up their purchase via the store’s drive-through option, as a contactless transaction

Main user: 

  • Online shoppers

Allow your users to have more flexibility in their purchasing process by offering multiple options for product delivery. Shoppers who prefer a contactless shopping experience as an alternative to an in-store shopping journey are now able to order their items online and pick-up at stores. A store locator app offers users a smooth integration between online and offline worlds by blending them into a single seamless process. Shoppers can easily locate the store closest to them, check stock availability independently, without the hassle of waiting several days for shipments, calling the store associates to check their preferred item’s availability, or the hassle and frustration of arriving in person at the store only to find out that the item of their interest is out of stock in the specific location.

For more information about the Store Locator App:

Building a Store Locator in React using Algolia, Mapbox, and Twilio – Part 1

Building a Store Locator in React using Algolia, Mapbox, and Twilio – Part 2



Want to build more?

In this series on Composable Commerce, you’ll discover how to use composable APIs to help you create innovative applications based on your product catalog.

About the author
Tanya Herman

Product Manager

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