Choosing a map provider

As part of setting up your Stockist store locator, you’re asked to create a map key for your website with either Google Maps or Mapbox. This key powers the map imagery on your website behind the store pins, as well as portions of the map's search functionality.

This article describes why it's necessary to set up a map key and how to choose which provider to use for your website.

Why do I need a map provider?

The map provider that you choose provides two key pieces of functionality for your store map:
  • It powers the worldwide, up-to-date map imagery behind the store pins on your map (the cities, roads, water, buildings, and other geographic details on the map)
  • It powers portions of the search on your map, specifically by translating place names that visitors search for (e.g. "NYC", "London", or "90210") into GPS coordinates so that Stockist can find stores in the right area
The services above are large and complex because they incorporate detailed geographical data for the entire world. Like most store locator software, Stockist relies on well-established companies like Google and Mapbox to provide these services. These companies have dozens of engineers working full-time on keeping everything running and on updating the underlying data as new roads, shopping complexes, and other developments are built worldwide.

Is there any extra cost?

For most sites with moderate traffic, there’s no extra cost. Both Mapbox and Google Maps offer an ongoing monthly free tier of service to each website that signs up. The free tiers are similar, and each generally provides enough usage for 10,000 visits to your store map each month at no cost. If your map has fewer than 10,000 pageviews in a particular month (only counting the page with the map, not your whole site), there shouldn’t be any additional cost.
If your site is especially busy and happens to exceed the free tier in a particular month, any overage cost would be charged directly by your chosen map provider (Mapbox or Google) with no extra markup from us.
The exact cost of any overage depends on the traffic to your site as well as how visitors use your map, but rough estimates are:
  • Mapbox: $3 - $8 per 1,000 views (after the free tier of ~10,000 views)
  • Google: $8 - $14 per 1,000 views (after the free tier of ~10,000 views)
For more details on the calculations, see our articles on the free tiers for Mapbox and Google Maps.

Why aren’t maps built into Stockist?

Because Google Maps and Mapbox both offer a free tier to each site that signs up, it’s more cost-effective for you to create your own map key than it would be for us to provide the mapping services.
We could create a single key and use it on everyone’s site, but then the free usage tier for this one key would be split among many different customers, so it wouldn’t amount to much for each site. Thus, we would need to pay the full regular cost of the map services on a per-pageview basis and pass this cost along in our subscription pricing.
By creating your own map key, you can take advantage of the full free tier for your site. These free tiers are plenty for most medium-size sites, and most clients don’t pay anything additional. However, if your site is one of the few that does sometimes exceed the free tier, you’d only pay for the exact usage incurred by your site beyond the free tier, without any additional markup.

Can I make sure I never exceed the free tier?

In some cases, it might be preferable to stop showing your map if your site ever exceeds the free tier, rather than potentially incurring extra cost.
If you’re using Google Maps, it’s possible to limit your key with specific quotas to ensure that it’s not possible to exceed the free tier. We have more details in the article Setting up quotas to limit Google Maps usage.
Mapbox doesn't currently have a way to set up a specific usage limit. However, Mapbox will notify you via email if your account ever exceeds the free tier, at which point you could consider manually hiding or unpublishing your map page temporarily.

Which provider should I choose?

If you're not sure or have no preference, we generally recommend Mapbox. Overall, Mapbox is the easiest to set up, works perfectly well for most sites, and is less expensive in the rare case that you do exceed the free tier.
On the other hand, Google Maps is familiar to many customers and does have slightly more comprehensive data when it comes to searching your map. Many of our larger clients choose to use Google Maps even though it’s a little more complex to set up a key.

Can I switch providers later on?

Yes! If you’d like to switch your map to a different provider later on, you can simply set up a key with the other provider and then add the new key to your Stockist account under Settings > Map provider. Your store listings and settings will remain the same, so you don’t need to set everything up again.
The one thing that might need to be reconfigured is the map theme - the theme options are different for each provider, so if you've chosen a custom theme for your map, you would need to choose a new theme for the other map provider. However, both providers support fully customizing the map colors, so it’s usually possible to set up a very similar theme with the other provider.

How do I set up a key?

For Mapbox, please see our instructions here. For Google Maps, the easiest option is:

  1. Open the Stockist dashboard and navigate to Settings > Map provider
  2. Choose Google Maps
  3. Click Create a Google Maps key to open a popup window that will guide you through creating a key
  4. At the end of the process, you'll be provided a key which you can copy/paste into the Stockist dashboard

We also have an alternative approach for Google Maps here.