6 Indoor Navigation Platforms for Retailers

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aisleThe easier that retailers make it for shoppers to find what they’re looking for, the less likely those consumers are to leave a store without making a purchase. According to a national survey commissioned by Aisle411, 20% of shoppers have departed a store without fulfilling their purchase intent, and 84% have had difficulty finding products on the crowded shelves of retailers.

Employing a team of sales associates to help customers find what they’re looking for is an expensive (and in many cases ineffective) solution to the problem. Nearly three-quarters of consumers with smartphones (or 73%) say they would rather use their mobile devices in a store than ask an associate for help.

Here are six platforms that merchants of all sizes can use to help customers find products on stores’ shelves and perhaps complete more transactions inside.

1. Aisle411: Integrate maps into your existing business app.
Retailers can integrate Aisle411’s interactive, searchable indoor maps into their own mobile apps. In addition to providing directions to specific products on store shelves, the platform makes it possible for customers to create shopping lists within the app. Businesses can then insert ads into the shopping lists that people build on their smartphones, letting shoppers know when complementary items are on sale and prompting them to purchase staples (like milk or eggs) while they’re in the aisles of those products. Merchants can contact Aisle411 directly for custom pricing options.

2. Point Inside: Send offers to customers in specific aisles or sections.
Point Inside uses micro-location technology to let large retailers track their customers’ in-store movement. Merchants can send relevant offers to customers based on their current locations, the products on their shopping lists, and their recent purchasing histories. Retailers with their own mobile apps can also provide customers indoor maps and turn-by-turn directions to specific products. Plus, Point Inside provides businesses with heat maps showing where their customers spend the most time and what targeted offers are most effective. Point Inside can build complete shopping apps or integrate its technology into existing apps.

3. Wifarer: Connect with customers at critical decision points.
Shopping centers, museums, and other large venues can partner with Wifarer to create branded apps with indoor positioning technology. Wifarer can be used at any venue with Wi-Fi. Customers who use Wifarer-powered apps can get directions, business information, and coupons on their smartphones. They can also pinpoint where they are on an indoor map and receive step-by-step directions to whatever it is they’re looking for, whether it’s specific retailer (in a mall) or an exhibit (in a museum). Wifarer costs “significantly less than any digital signage or kiosk installation,” according to the company.

4. Sensewhere: Inform customers about products near their current locations.
Sensewhere offers a handful of apps that merchants can use to target customers while they’re shopping in physical stores without relying on GPS. The company’s adwhere app gives retailers a way to send ads and coupons to customers based on their current positions, and the geowhere app offers a white-label solution for merchants seeking to track customers in both indoor and outdoor settings. Using Sensewhere, shopping malls can send consumers free drink coupons when they’re near food courts and retailers can help customers find specific items on store shelves.

5. AisleFinder: Make it easier for customers to shop a store.
Supermarkets can be difficult to traverse, with thousands of products spread across dozens of aisles. AisleFinder is a mobile application that gives shoppers the aisle numbers of products on their shopping lists. The company gets its data from merchants directly, and then reviews and reevaluates that data for changes every two months. AisleFinder currently has product location information for more than 5,300 stores loaded in its consumer-facing app. The company encourages businesses wishing to participate to email CEO Curtis Pope directly.

6. Meridian: Build a custom app with turn-by-turn navigation.
Retail stores, museums, and hotels can use Meridian to build cross-platform apps with indoor navigation or add the same navigation features to their existing mobile apps. Meridian converts a merchant’s location blueprints into mobile-friendly maps, which can be customized to match a brand’s aesthetic. Shoppers can rely on these maps to get turn-by-turn directions inside  establishments, making it easy to find specific departments or products. The fees that retailers with existing apps can expect to pay for use of Meridian’s software platform vary depending on the number of locations. Meridian’s software development kits, NavKit and BluDotKit, are free for companies that have licensed the Meridian Editor.

Know of other indoor navigation platforms that retailers should try? Leave a description in the comments.

Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.

Image via Flickr user The Consumerist.

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.