As might be expected, the National Retail Federation (NRF) expo show was ‘the’ place to see what technologies will shape the future of retail. But this year also saw more emphasis on how (and why) both brands and retailers should move beyond simple tech solutions into comprehensive strategies that harness context to connect with consumers.
In fact, ‘Personalization’ —hailed as the theme for this expo as well as for all of 2015 — is more than a key component of approaches coming online to make the shopping journey more visibly engaging. By learning what shoppers want and what they do, smart retailers can make shopping more convenient and enhance the shopping experience through intelligent product presentation and informed design of their environments.
At NRF we took the wraps off a new mobile app to show how product search has evolved and in the process how efficient and accurate it has become. Thanks to indoor magnetic positioning technology from IndoorAtlas, a Finnish leader in the space, we’re now able to provide ‘the blue dot’ with 3-6 foot accuracy. No external – and costly – hardware is required. Instead, the magnetometer already built in the phone is used to measure the intensity of the earth’s magnetic field in the store aisles. This innovation offers a uniquely scalable solution that answers the question all users, and increasingly retailers and brands, have indoors: “Where am I?”
Combining Aisle411’s platform and mapping with IndoorAtlas’ indoor positioning technology allowed us to demonstrate a path-breaking mobile app with a level of detail and precision not previously available. During the NRF show, our app made the entire search and knowledge experience a no-brainer by presenting users with multiple layers of context and information around the booths and companies they were searching for.
Importantly, this wasn’t just a depiction of a dot moving through space. The app offered the full contextual experience by combining continuous live – and accurate – position information with our database of details about the surrounding environment. This is the real news since the combination of precise position information and product/location context unlocks the potential for brand new insights, such as exactly where shoppers moved and how long they spent in different locations.
Clearly, this represents an incredible value to brands, retailers, and anyone interested in harnessing this powerful combination of detailed maps and extremely accurate indoor positioning information to gain insights into shopper behavior and context. Availability of this rich data on how shoppers interact with their physical environments will create entirely new understandings of how to supercharge marketing and optimize the entire shopping experience.
Importantly, this is an immediately scalable solution. As this approach doesn’t require hardware installation (such as beacons), it’s easy to see why the attendee response to our mobile app demo (the first iteration of this service) was overwhelmingly positive. (In fact, many remarked the app search experience and accuracy was far superior to the official show app.)
Knowledge about what shoppers do in the store — where they stop, spend time, and consider vs. complete a purchase, as well as the places they avoid on their journey through the store — is what retailers and brands need to know in order to make informed decisions about their business. Similar to how retailers have optimized their store websites to encourage e-commerce and drive traffic, retailers have recognized that harnessing mobile and indoor location technologies to optimize their physical stores can deliver huge benefits and drive foot traffic to the areas of the store — and the offers at aisle level — that they want their customers to find and appreciate.