Google Hooks Up with Aisle411 to Map Stores

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aisleOne of the biggest retail commerce reveals at Google I/O 2014 was a shopping solution that will change the way consumers see retail store shelves. Through a partnership with Google’s Project Tango, in-store mobile marketing firm aisle411 is prepping to launch an in-store solution that enhances the shopping experience through fully interactive 3D maps.

Aisle411 is already a leading provider of in-store augmented reality solutions. The company’s in-store mapping solutions have been deployed at more than 12,500 retail locations for brands that include Walgreens, Home Depot, and WinCo Foods.

Now the company will partner with Walgreens to test an in-store service that helps shoppers navigate store aisles and find specific products. Throughout the shopping experience, shoppers can be introduced to personalized coupons and other promotional offers, as well as rewards that can be accrued just by browsing in store aisles.

aisle411 CEO Nathan Pettyjohn told Street Fight he believes the new shopping solution will make shopping easier and more efficient for all customers.

“The reason why most people shop in the store is the immediate gratification of getting a product,” said Pettyjohn. “As more and more online solutions come on board, it makes it so the online convenience factor is leveling out [with in-store convenience], and so you need to provide a better experience.”

Much of that user experience will be built on data and insights unique to mobile technology–and this data will be derived from consumer behavior while in stores. The hardware coming from Project Tango will include mobile devices that feature two cameras and a depth sensor, in addition to the gyroscope and other motion-sensitive hardware already featured in mobile devices, that can track the location and movements of a consumer down to mere centimeters.

That means the device can determine what section a consumer is shopping in, even what side of the aisle and which products a shopper is browsing at any given time. That data can then be used to deliver more relevant product recommendations and promotional offers to the consumer.

“I really feel like this changes the definition of what in-store advertising is, because you can now take a user’s location, and now all of a sudden every inch of the store becomes a digital end-cap,” Pettyjohn said. “Everything can be augmented. It becomes really easy to bring more content to the customer.”

Pettyjohn said the content possibilities are endless. It’s not just promotions and recommendations that can be delivered — consumers could come around the corner of a retail aisle and be presented with a celebrity endorsement for a certain product.

And while Pettyjohn made it clear that Google has made no announcements in regards future applications of the technology, the CEO believes the company’s shopping solution is a natural fit for Google Glass and other wearable devices.

“[Wearable devices] create this great experience where the whole store comes alive when you walk into it,” Pettyjohn said. “And that way, you’re hands-free.”

Those same consumers shopping for gluten-free items, for example, could wear a headset that blurs out all the items on store shelves that contain gluten, limiting their vision to just the items that are safe to eat. Of course, Pettyjohn knows that reliably delivering this experience would require a convergence of very rich data.

The ultimate goal, though, is to continue building a better user experience–one that introduces “an entertainment element” into each visit to the store. When the quality of the consumer experience is elevated, Pettyjohn argues, pricing becomes less of a sticking point.

“People will pay a premium for coffee because of the experience they get at Starbucks,” Pettyjohn said.

The aisle411 CEO said testing for the new shopping solutions will take place at four Walgreens locations toward the end of Q3. LG has already agreed to produce a mass consumer version of the device, slated for release in 2015.

The company is waiting to make sure they have the product right before they roll it out on a large scale. But Pettyjohn said he’s already talked to three retailers directly about the new solution: “All three have said they want to try it.”

Jonathan Crowl is a reporter at Street Fight.