image Petco has moved their store locator to Microsoft Virtual Earth. Petco has over 850 stores in the United States which you can search through using a city/state combo or a postal code. Additionally, Petco offers services at some of their stores, but not all of them. This led to building a filtered query when submitting user input in the form of checkboxes for Dog Training, Vaccinations, Pet Photography, Full-service Grooming, Self-service Dog Wash, Aquatics Departments or just searching for All Stores.

You can build this querying in MapPoint Web Service then present the results on a Virtual Earth Map. I wrote a lab last year illustrating how to convert the SOAP XML from MapPoint Web Service to JavaScript for Virtual Earth - "Virtual Earth @ Tech Ed '07." Basically, you store your locations in MapPoint Web Service (MWS), send your server request to MWS for radius searching (FindNearby()) and filter the radius search based on attributes stored in your MWS database (FindNearbySpecification.Filter.WhereClause Property), then render the data onto a Virtual Earth Map. Also, note the custom icons (for brand retention) which also work in 3D - someone finally listened! - don't use a relative path in 3D or your custom icons won't work - use the FQDN HTTP string.

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With the results you can drill down into each store further with address and phone number information, driving directions, store events, Petfinder Shelters, the weekly ad (circular) and any additional details about the respective location. On the homepage of their store locator, Petco also provides a full list of Grand Opening stores - a great way of creating buzz for new stores. This is a great showcase for a retail store locator leveraging Microsoft's mapping platform products. If you want to move away from your simplified store locator solution from your current provider and move to a scalable, robust solution, send mail to me or maplic@microsoft.com. We'll get you taken care of.

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