retail store

How Retailers Use AI, Mapping to Boost ROI on Store Remodels

Walmart, Walgreens, and Sephora are all using artificial intelligence technology to improve the retail experience. While the majority of use cases for AI in retail have focused on enhancing the shopping experience for customers, forward-thinking analytics firms are innovating and developing new uses for their existing AI technology.

The analytics firm Fractal Analytics is pushing forward in the retail space with its own solution that relies on AI to forecast the cost of retail store remodels, as well as determine the ROI from large-scale renovation projects. Although Fractal works solely with Fortune 500 companies, the solutions it is developing could be adopted more broadly throughout the retail space.

Is Visual Mapping the Next Google-Apple Battleground?

As Google and Apple lead the way, we are getting closer to ubiquitous visual mapping. If that happens, there will be significant implications for entities that currently use search and mapping for marketing or online presence. They’ll need to make sure they are optimized in this new format.

This could lead to an extension of SEO to cultivate presence in visual experiences. Just like in search, correct business location and details will need to be optimized to show up in the right places. You don’t want the AR overlay for your restaurant floating above the salon next door.

Gimbal Innovates to Track Consumer Trends in the Physical World

For years, marketers have used Google Trends to uncover insights based on search data. Now, executives at the advertising and marketing automation platform Gimbal are hoping their newest product will serve the same purpose for the physical world.

Built on top of an independent location data set, Gimbal Trends has been designed to provide marketers with a comprehensive view of consumer behavior in the real world. The product was released this morning, and already Gimbal is seeing interest from companies in the entertainment industry that are interested in leveraging the data to optimize their decision-making processes about upcoming events.

7 Indoor Mapping Platforms for Retailers

More than half of shoppers (57%) have used a retailer’s mobile app while in-store. In order for their apps to provide the greatest amount of value, retailers need to tap in to location features, including indoor mapping. When Street Fight first wrote about indoor mapping tools back in 2013, the technology was still relatively young. Now, the market has had time to mature and retailers looking at integrating indoor mapping technology into their mobile apps have an even wider array of vendors to choose from.

Here are seven companies with indoor mapping solutions for retailers.

Letter From the Editor: Mapping the Future of Local Commerce

Of all of the technologies and consumer touchpoints to local commerce, mapping is perhaps the most relevant. This centuries-old technology has gone into hyperdrive over the past 15 years since the launch of Google Maps, and it continues to be a primary tool for local search and discovery.

But what’s the state of the art and how is it evolving? This will be Street Fight’s focus in the month of September. This follows last month’s connected car theme and past months’ reporting and commnetary on privacy, retail transformation and the “beyond the screen” evolution of voice and visual search.

Making the Case for Driver-Centric Location Solutions in Cars of the Future

Traditionally, a lot of discussion around location tech as it relates to auto is for marketing and media applications for the dealerships and automakers themselves, where the goal is to sell more cars. That helps the OEM and the dealers, but it leaves an enormous opportunity on the table. We also need to be customer-centric, which means providing an experience that decommoditizes ownership and makes the journey itself a little more interesting. That’s how to keep the miles-traveled metric high, even when fewer cars are being sold.

Applying user data in this fashion requires adherence to a code of data privacy and ethics — starting with a clear and obvious value exchange to the end user (the driver). An owner of a vehicle should clearly understand the benefit in having location data collected. Location data can improve the driver’s experience in three ways.

How VR and AR Are Changing the Car-Buying Experience

New cars are incredibly expensive, and most people don’t feel comfortable picking a vehicle based exclusively on two-dimensional images and whatever data they can pull up on the Kelley Blue Book website. Consumers don’t want to go into dealerships, either, so they end up delaying their purchases for as long as possible.

RelayCars thinks it has a solution.

The company has put together a program that uses augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to help consumers research new cars and trucks. Getting a realistic view of a vehicle from their own homes helps users narrow down their selections and decreases the time shoppers need to spend test driving multiple cars.

Digital Advertisers Look to Connected Cars to Push Industry Forward

As the industry continues to evolve, Geopath’s Kym Frank predicts that two-way communication between cars and advertisers will become even more commonplace and OOH strategies that involve connected vehicle data will be the norm among major brand advertisers.

“The car itself can communicate with digital displays to trigger optimal creative, and the billboard can communicate with the dash to trigger in-app ads,” Frank says. “We are at the very beginning of seeing what is possible and measuring those impacts.”

Connected Vehicle Data Will Revolutionize Audio Industry

Automotive OEMs have bulk data plans with cellular carriers primarily for collecting vehicle diagnostic data (e.g. mileage, engine warnings, etc.). As a result, it is now possible to capture data from millions of vehicles. This presents an opportunity to capture  exponentially larger audio data sample sizes, especially for AM/FM radio, which will fundamentally change audience measurement, ad attribution, and program insights. While data today is primarily audio listening, the introduction of autonomous vehicles will result in significant consumption of video that can be measured in a similar way to audio.  

6 Automotive Data Services Platforms

In order for consumer-facing companies and outside technology firms to take complete advantage of the data that’s being generated by automakers, the data coming from today’s connected vehicles needs to be aggregated and normalized.

Automotive data services platforms are stepping in with technology designed to take connected vehicles to the next level. By ingesting and cleansing data from connected cars, these platforms are helping minimize the development work that’s needed to launch a wide variety of third-party apps and services.

Here are six companies that are innovating in the space.

Waymo Releases Data Set to Catalyze Autonomous Driving Research

Why should local search specialists care about autonomous vehicles? The same way mobile, with its natural on-the-go use cases, has become the hub of “near me” searches that lead consumers into local businesses, cars will become the next mobile device, catalyzing the next wave of “near me” queries. Self-driving cars are not tangential to the future of local; they are central to it.

Immersive Tech’s Next Conquest: Your Car

The real opportunity in VR and connected cars, going back to our primary focus on local commerce, could be to utilize that captive in-car media time with local discovery tools. Ad-supported experiences could be geo-targeted based on where you are or where you’re going. Destination-based discovery tools could be baked in.

By Unlocking Vehicle Data, Car Rental Companies Help Build Smarter Cities

As operator of three of the most recognized brands in the industry — Avis, Budget and Zipcar — Avis Budget Group represents a mobility ecosystem of more than 11,000 locations in approximately 180 countries. The company recently partnered with the connected-car data firm Otonomo to manage its connected cars on Otonomo’s automotive data services platform. Otonomo will help ABG derive insights from its large connected vehicle fleet, including anonymizing, standardizing, and delivering data from Toyota, Ford, Peugeot and GM vehicles.

The deal between ABG and Otonomo is expected to generate more than 4 billion road miles of data this year, and 7 billion road miles of data by 2020, with much of that data being used for predictive maintenance, smart city planning, and streamlining of the rental process.

5 Business Models for On-Demand Delivery

In the on-demand food delivery vertical alone, revenue is expected to reach $94 billion this year. Other verticals, like beauty, parking, health, shipping, and marijuana, are seeing significant gains, as well. Although the space is maturing, investors are still seeing great growth opportunities. Any number of on-demand delivery startups has the potential to take over the space if it continues to grow as its current pace.

To understand where that growth might occur, we need to take a step back and examine which business models are proving most successful in the on-demand delivery space and how startups are implementing those business models for financial gain.

How FlashParking Is Turning Isolated Lots Into Connected Hubs

The parking technology company FlashParking wants to reimagine the way parking lots are managed. But rather than pushing “smart” technology on individual operators, the company is taking a decidedly different approach to decreasing traffic congestion in cities.

Operating under the belief that most technology solutions to urban challenges are unnecessarily complicated, the team at FlashParking is working toward solutions that redirect energy away from smart-city technology. Instead, FlashParking is pushing a system that embraces so-called “dumb cities” — cities planned and built with durable approaches to infrastructure.

German Tech Provider Bosch Developing 3D Displays for Cars

In the long run, this technology could pave the way toward an even more connected car. That means local advertising that could collect more data on user habits and lead drivers toward local businesses when they are on the go. As autonomous vehicles grow more common and sophisticated, the 3D displays could also be used for entertainment or other yet unseen purposes to enhance the auto experience of the future.

August Focus: Local’s Next Battleground is Your Car

Why are connected cars important to Street Fight (and to you)? As we continue to evolve the definition of “local,” one key component of its market opportunity is offline brick-and-mortar shopping. After all, about 90% of all U.S. retail spending, to the tune of about $3.7 trillion, is completed offline in physical stores. That is usually in proximity to one’s home (thus, local).

Could an increasingly digital and connected car influence those purchases when consumers are out and about? This is one extension of the local search that consumers used to do at home but now do on their mobile devices while on the move. The car could become a third point of connection and influence.

Multi-Location Marketers Want to Do More Social Advertising, But One Big Thing Stands in the Way

Unlike search, social is a push medium that marketers can use to reach new audiences. Social can leverage rich ad formats such as mouth-watering images of restaurant dishes, explainer videos for complex products, and eye-catching celebrity or influencer endorsements that are much more impactful and engaging at storytelling than search. 

Today’s local enterprise advertisers know that they should be leveraging the one-two punch of search and social together. One day they will. But until social advertising can offer the same streamlined workflow that can make managing hundreds or thousands of locations as easy as search makes it, social will still lag behind in the local marketing media portfolio. 

The History and Value of Citations, or Citations are Dead, Long Live the Citation

Mihm to Blumenthal: Setting aside the fact that the vast majority of calls you receive from non-Google directories are from salespeople, if you’re paying for an expensive citation service with analytics, compare the non-Google numbers to your GMB Insights. It’s going to be a drop in the bucket.

It’s time that every brand, regardless of size, ask itself whether going beyond Google, Facebook, and maybe Yelp is worth paying any premium. 

If a tree falls in the citation forest and no customers are there to see it, not only does it not make a sound, but Google doesn’t care that it fell.

Mobile Is Always Local: Thoughts on the Future of Online-to-Offline Commerce

The other day, Uber Eats announced a new service that struck me at first as a little surprising but, once I absorbed the idea, seemed strangely inevitable. In select cities like Austin and San Diego, you can now order food ahead of time, monitor your order status, and arrive at the restaurant just in time to begin dining, your table ready and waiting for you. This on-demand dine-in service is meant to remove time and effort from the experience of eating out, and it may also help restaurants fill empty tables during off-peak times by enabling special time-based incentives. 

When I say it seems inevitable that an app would eventually “solve” waiting for your food at restaurants, I have two things in mind. The first is a quote from Twitter co-founder Ev Williams that, to me, strikes at the root of contemporary trends in innovation. The second point I want to observe here is that the highly representative user experience created by Uber Eats is taking place on a mobile phone.