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On a login form where the user must select the name of the store location that they are logging into, there may be up to 6000 values. For a company that only has 5-10 locations the dropdown works well.

What would be a good alternative to using a dropdown to make it usable for up to 6000 locations?

  • Is this a list of places with different locations? The example that springs to mind is 6000 stores in the same chain. Or is this something different? – JonBee Aug 17 '15 at 18:18
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    Will users tend to log in to the same store? If so, you can delay the issue by always letting them log in to the store they last logged into and letting them reselect when logged in. – Peter Aug 17 '15 at 18:22
  • @JonBee 6000 stores in the same chain. So for example in the case of Apple it a selection may be "Burlington Mall" or "Boylston St" – Steve Jones Aug 17 '15 at 18:26
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    Is it really necessary to let users choose the store? If usernames were unique over all 6000 stores (e.g., by using the email address for logging in), your application could do this work. – unor Aug 17 '15 at 21:01
  • a simple ip geocoding should be able to reduce that list to a few possibilities. – njzk2 Aug 17 '15 at 21:57
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For any select list of over a couple dozen options, free-text search with autocomplete support is the only sane option.

This is a common pattern seen on real estate sites (Zillow, Redfin, etc) and travel sites (AirBnb, Kayak, any airline, etc.) Kayak shown below.

Kayak Autocomplete

Fred Meyer (big-box retailer) has a 'Select Store' search box to solve this - requesting you narrow by zip or city, then presents a long list of matches. Free text with autocomplete would be a much better experience, but if engineering costs are a limitation this might be an option. https://www.fredmeyer.com/:

Fred Meyer Find Stores

The dupe DasBeasto posted above gives an excellent, thorough answer as well.

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    Depending on your situation, you might be able to use HTML5's datalist to do this. – Scott Bevington Aug 17 '15 at 20:31
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As mentioned in the answer linked by @DasBeasto, a good solution might be an auto-completing text field. The user only needs to start typing the name of the location, and the text box will start filtering it down.

However, this really only works for users who already happen to know where this location is exactly located. If the user is searching for a location purely by proximity to another location (zip code, home address, etc), this approach falls apart. A more apt solution might be to prompt your users for a zip code, state, or city and then present the locations closest to that point. A common usage of this is to also present the user with a map to spatially represent your locations.

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