Most of us rely heavily on GPS systems to navigate in our vehicles and on the streets. But step inside a shopping mall or big box store, and it can be daunting to find one’s way around. Indoor positioning systems (IPS), which work like GPS for inside locations, are the next big thing for bricks and mortar retailers, and it’s a technology that can help them regain some ground against e-tailers.
With step-by-step guidance from a system that recognizes where the shopper is physically located in a building, IPS makes is possible for shoppers to more easily navigate their way through multi-level, maze-like structures. Dynamic turn-by-turn navigation can point shoppers to stores inside the mall, and IPS-based apps can even help weary shoppers find their vehicles in the parking garage once they’ve completed their shopping.
There’s more: IPS also can have a dramatic impact on bottom-line results for retail shops and mall owners. With many savvy consumers jumping onto the Web seeking lower-priced offers and a broader product selection online, mall owners must offer them something the e-tailers cannot. That ”something” is a highly personalized experience, the key to which involves understanding the customers.
Consumers are fickle. They don’t want to be treated as anonymous, passive recipients of marketing campaigns. They prefer fewer, more targeted offers, with the caveat that the offer provider does not know “too much” about them. That’s where IPS can help. Much like the digital footprint, or cookies, that help online retailers understand every website their customers visit, IPS can help retailers analyze visitor patterns, enabling them to identify what products and services, campaigns, and more will be attractive to customers.
IPS can tell a mall owner how many times a customer visits a certain store, what products they buy, and the amount of time they spend there. It can even show the retailer which routes to the store are most popular with shoppers. Armed with this information, retailers can develop online promotions, such as location-based coupons as shoppers approach certain stores, or emails that resonate with customer’s personal interests to help draw them into the store.
Getting to this point, of course, means retailers must making signing on for IPS apps appealing to consumers. Coupons and discounts that incent the user to try the IPS app are always good. Advertising the app’s functionality at mall and store entrances is also important. Malls can run contests – maybe a scavenger hunt that brings teams to various parts of the mall using indoor-location apps.
IPS is poised to become an increasingly important component in improving the customer experience for brick and mortar retail stores, leading to more sales and more revenue. Retailers, it’s time to step up your game!