5 Location-Based Marketing Platforms for Brands Without Retail Stores

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Finding the address of a local retailer is easy. Pop the name of any establishment into a mobile device, and you’re almost guaranteed to find an address, map, and personalized directions leading the way. Figuring out where to purchase products from a brand that doesn’t have its own retail establishment, however, can present more of a challenge. Increasingly, major brands like Vicks and Nestlé are using location-based marketing platforms to help point consumers in the right direction.

Here are five platforms giving brands a way to take advantage of location-based services technology on their own terms.

1. JiWire’s Compass: Direct customers to stores that have your products in stock.
Major brands that don’t have physical storefronts can use JiWire’s Compass platform to direct smartphone users to the places where their products are sold. Brands can design interactive ads within the platform that utilize real-time product availability data to point consumers toward local retailers that currently have their products in stock. Notable Compass partners include Clinique, Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, and Jeep.

2. Point Inside: Track consumer movement inside stores.
Point Inside uses indoor mapping technology to identify consumers’ “micro-locations” inside stores, giving brands a way to send targeted offers, product information, and tailored reviews when smartphone users walk by their products in grocery stores and other retail establishments. Brands can also send special coupons when consumers are near any stores that sell their products. Point Inside partners include Sprint, Clear Channel, and Meijer.

3. inMarket: Turn grocery store shoppers onto your brand.
The company inMarket connects brands to consumers through a trio of mobile apps: CheckPoints, Extra! Extra!, and List Bliss. Brands that advertise through these apps can choose whether to target geographic regions, specific retail chains, or individual stores. And inMarket encourages mobile users to interact with advertisers by providing points and other incentives when they scan bar codes, and delivering relevant messages when consumers are near certain products in store aisles. Since launching in 2010, inMarket has worked with brands like Coca-Cola, Levi’s, Nestlé, and Unilever.

4. Swirl: Promote your brand to tech-savvy fashionistas.
Fashion brands can use Swirl to guide consumers toward stores where their lines are sold. The Swirl mobile app lets consumers “follow” their favorite brands and notifies them when they’re close to retailers having sales. Swirl then motivates consumers to complete purchases by sending targeted offers, according to their location. Brands can take part in the action by pushing deals to app users when they’re within a certain distance of retailers carrying their lines. Since the Swirl app debuted in August, its maker has formed partnerships with Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Old Navy.

5. Foursquare: Create a brand page to engage with customers.
Just because a company doesn’t have a physical location where consumers can check in doesn’t mean it can’t use Foursquare for marketing purposes. The platform offers tools that brands can tap to drive awareness and engagement with consumers. Marketers of brands can start their own “brand pages,” where they share with followers content and tips like where to buy their products. A few of the many brands that have created pages on Foursquare include MTV, Bravo, and People.

Know of other platforms that brands can use to point consumers toward their products in stores? Leave a description in the comments.

Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.