Three Ways Indoor Maps Do More for Complex Retail Buildings

Indoor maps and location-aware technologies have been increasingly incorporated into retail spaces for the better part of a decade. In large, complex shopping malls and department stores, innovations in digital signage and personal mobile devices have been met with an increase in the adoption of indoor maps to provide indoor wayfinding. 

Throughout the last decade, wayfinding has been the cornerstone of indoor technology use cases, and the indoor navigation solutions that have been created for kiosks, mobile apps, and other digital signage are undeniably helpful in addressing consumer-focused wayfinding pain points. Furthermore, the solutions that provide navigation for persons with disabilities and are able to provide real-time blue dot wayfinding, or real time updates for construction or emergency route changes, have also begun to dramatically improve the experience of place in these retail facilities. However, while these wayfinding solutions are important and impressive, they are only the beginning.

Once a venue’s maps have been digitized for wayfinding purposes, there are many ways to drive additional ROI from that same set of indoor maps. When location technologies are designed with interoperability in mind, it becomes possible to blend different technologies together to create smart solutions that provide value not only to business operations but also to consumers. By integrating digitized, layer-based indoor maps with other solutions such as the indoor equivalent of GPS, known as Indoor Positioning Systems (IPS), asset tracking and business intelligence, great things become possible. 

Here is a shortlist of the top use cases that malls can implement to generate further ROI from their indoor mapping investments.

Intelligent Tenant Management

Using a robust indoor mapping platform, IPS, and indoor location analytics or business intelligence, an organization can visualize foot traffic and spatial congregation in a mall, or any other large, complex retail building. Typically, this sort of people movement data would be presented as a series of latitudinal-longitudinal coordinates on a table, which is not especially effective or helpful, as you can imagine. 

Data takes on new meaning and becomes significantly more actionable when viewed in the context of a map. By merging tabular data with geospatially accurate, layer-based maps, organizations can empower tenant management teams to easily visualize the movement of people throughout their buildings, enabling them to make smarter, more data-driven decisions, such as to adjust rent based on which areas of a building have the highest foot traffic and longest dwell times. 

Real-Time Mobile Asset Tracking

When you’re separated from your young ones at a busy mall, no amount of digital signage or advanced map-enabled kiosks are going to help you find your kids in that moment. By leveraging asset tracking technology and tracking bracelets, you can enable visitors to stay connected with their children in places like theme parks and other attractions in shopping venues where parents may want to let them have some independence while having peace of mind that they can see exactly where they are on a map.   

With the ubiquity of personal devices and concerns around privacy, location sharing in mobile apps for public spaces should always aim to follow an opt-in process. Individuals should be able to make their own informed decisions about how, where, and with whom their location is shared, and they should be able to revoke that permission at any time. When location sharing is leveraged to help families and friends find each other and stay together, shopping experiences can go from stressful to successful. 

Automated Facilities Management

With a full integration between a facility’s work order management system and an indoor mapping platform, maintenance tasks could be automatically assigned to the nearest member of the facilities team, or the person with the right skills to complete a job (skills-based routing), along with complete with turn-by-turn navigation to the service area. This is a prime example of how facilities management and maintenance can be simplified for your team with indoor mapping technologies, especially if you are leveraging machine learning.

The same technology can be used to optimize other maintenance operational workflows such as maintenance schedules and building energy efficiency. Indoor maps can be used to visualize data from various systems to help identify and prioritize where work should be done first. Essentially, facilities teams are empowered to easily identify and categorize complex and disparate infrastructure on a map using an indoor mapping and location platform to reveal insights based on location. For example, if a maintenance manager could see where all the highest value assets requiring service are, they can optimize a maintenance plan that best meets the business’ needs. 

These are just three of the use cases that innovative retailers can implement, building on the technological infrastructure they have already invested in for indoor wayfinding. From optimizing back-end operations to improving the shopper experience, once the foundations are in place, there is virtually no limit on the opportunities for retail venues.

Chris Wiegand is EVP of Sales at Inpixon.

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