The Great Indoors: The Future of Indoor Location & Advertising

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The “shopping experience” is something retailers have been perfecting for decades. Product placement and drive-aisle concepts are designed to entice consumers and draw them to the best deals that will keep them coming back. But, what if we could take these concepts a step further with location-based marketing? Many retailers have already started to use indoor location-based services which make it easy to reach consumers in the great indoors.

How it works
The best way to grab a consumer’s attention and keep them coming back is with offers and rewards. The physical “shopping experience” is already designed to bring the consumer’s attention to good deals by using product placement techniques, and now indoor location-based services are taking it a step further. By utilizing the right application, good deals can come to you instantly just by walking into a store.

Take Shopkick for example — the mobile app that allows users to collect rewards points or “kicks” by detecting when they enter a participating retailer. Upon entering, the app also allows its users to view the current in-store sales, and see what others are saying about products and services offered by the retailer. There’s also BeeMedia which offers a similar service, introducing itself as a “personal shopping assistant,” helping users find the best deals based on where they are. The benefits of this technology are shared by both consumer and retailer, adding a completely new level of engagement to the shopping experience. Instead of having sales people bombard you with information when you walk in the door, all the information you need to get the most out of your shopping experience is at your fingertips.  Expect these tools to evolve to integrate or build functionality around bar code scanning, real-time inventory and more.

Creepy vs. Consumer Engagement
Any mobile app that has to know where you are in order to work has a tendency to give people the “creeps.” But there are certainly tactics to stay away from the creepy and instead generate feelings of consumer engagement and even excitement. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to offer rewards for use, much like the apps that have already been mentioned. The rewards and savings that come just by walking into a store are a pretty appealing feature of indoor location based services that can easily motivate shoppers to take advantage.

Another good tactic is to simply offer users useful location based information. EveryScape is an interesting example; it’s a location-based service which can actually be used without having to go anywhere at all. EveryScape allows users to view three dimensional virtual tours of certain locations online before they actually go there. This allows users to “step inside” various locations, gathering and sharing information about it before they even leave home. This service can benefit both consumers and especially participating businesses by allowing them to create an engaging and immersive relationship with consumers online. Most location based services also create a connection with consumers by providing easy access to social networks. This lets users not only connect with the businesses themselves but also with other consumers who can share different perspectives and information, expanding the level of engagement and possibly improving the shopping experience further. Are you still feeling creeped out?

An Integrated Media View
Beyond the pure mobile engagement, we should watch for solutions that tie location-based mobile services to other media like DOOH, audio or in-store WiFi.  A great example of this is the new partnership between the Gap and Roqbot.  Roqbot is a mobile app similar to Foursquare for check-ins and deals, but is focused on letting the consumer take control of stores’ “elevator music” – effectively re-inventing the Jukebox. Users are further acknowledged via avatars through integration with digital screens.

With the holiday and shopping season in full swing, now is the time to do everything possible to find the best deals and make the experience a little easier on yourself. Why not take advantage of one of the many location based services out there to give you a hand?

Asif R. Khan is a veteran tech start-up, business development and marketing entrepreneur currently serving the community as founder and president of the Location Based Marketing Association (The LBMA). Weekly podcaster at This Week In Location Based Marketing every Monday. Can be found at @AsifRKhan @TheLBMA on Twitter.