On its face, it looks a lot like pre-pandemic life has resumed. Behind the scenes, though, many businesses are frantically searching for ways to welcome back guests at full capacity without sacrificing safety.
To define the current state and future trajectory of mapping, we’ve rounded up top industry voices from Foursquare and NextNav as well as Street Fight’s own Mike Boland.
Already, businesses are using AI-based mapping systems to find the most efficient routes, which saves valuable time and fuel costs. AI-based mapping systems could also be useful for companies that want to create more optimized truckload plans based on market situations and cargo specifications.
Mapping is one of those foundational “meat and potatoes” topics in Street Fight’s repertoire that buttresses local commerce. But despite its longstanding positioning at the center of that world, and its mature status, it still somehow continues to show rapid transformation and innovation cycles. Experts from HERE Technologies, GroundTruth, and SafeGraph expound on the state of mapping tech.
The latest mapping innovations can be summed up in the announcements coming out of the last three major developer conferences. As we’re in the midst of developer conference season, this includes Google I/O, Snap’s Partner Summit, and Apple’s flagship WWDC. Let’s tackle those one at a time.
When you haven’t stepped foot inside a store for months, navigating crowded aisles can be disconcerting. With products moving to new locations, and sales associates in scarce supply, major retailers are doubling down on visual search experiences to keep customers in the loop.
The new month signals that it is also time for a fresh Street Fight editorial theme. As these themes often reflect the macro environment, we’ve chosen one that’s endemic to (renewed) physical-world interaction: mapping. We’ll see increased usage of mapping tools as consumers emerge from their homes and return to the pastimes of local commerce.
As the pandemic has worn on, marketers have begun to ask what’s next. How do you keep open and click-through rates high, even as consumers shift back from e-commerce to in-person shopping? The answer, for many, involves maps.
Just look at Torrid, the women’s retail chain formerly owned by Hot Topic, with more than 600 stores across the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada.
In this episode of Location Weekly, the Location-Based Marketing Association covers 51Degrees partnering with Digital Element, Stirista acquiring Nikaza’s attribution and location intelligence engine, Torrid finding success with email marketing using personalized maps, and FedEx launching real-time package tracking with SenseAware ID.
Apple surprised the local search world last month when it announced local business reviews in Maps. Similar to its other search-based efforts, Apple formerly relied on partners like Yelp for local listings and reviews. But now, as part of its broader data-driven Maps overhaul, it will phase in original content.
Much has been written about this within the local search publishing world and analyst corps, including my colleague Stephanie Miles’ article on how brands can prepare for Apple Maps reviews here on Street Fight. So in the interest of treading new ground, what less-discussed clues lie in Apple’s recent mapping moves that can triangulate its direction?
Techniques for measuring DOOH exposure and mapping to give cross-device measurement more meaning are being utilized by larger brand marketers, but smaller companies are also getting into the game and finding innovative ways to layer maps onto their local strategies.
Here are five ways that marketers can use mapping technology in their local campaigns.
What does “Mapping the Future” entail? As a primary tool for consumer local search and discovery, mapping continues to undergo UX innovations and structural changes. We’ll examine these areas as well as mapping’s interplay with local search and SEO strategies.
Though mapping is more of a Street Fight staple than a trending topic, market signals indicate that the timing is right. In fact, we already got started last month with a look at Snapchat’s moves into local mapping — not just UX upgrades to Snap Map but also self-serve advertising for local businesses.
Snapchat’s 200 million users can now use Snap Map to find businesses in addition to finding friends. These two activities can go hand in hand if friends are discovered nearby on the map when users are planning local adventures.
But what matters most for local is that Snap will now let businesses promote themselves in the map interface, adding a key option for local advertising. This will happen on a self-serve basis for both SMBs and multi-location brands.
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.
Over the past few years, a number of national retailers have added mapping technology into their mobile apps. Even more retailers have given store associates handheld devices with integrated indoor location features, putting the answers to frequently asked questions—like where products are located and how to get to certain store departments—at their fingertips.
Even though location and mapping technology is embedded into many consumer-facing shopping apps, and it’s used by retailers to fuel both their marketing initiatives and back-end operations, publicly explained use cases from retail brands are rare. Here are five examples of how retailers are applying the technology and using mapping to fundamentally change the in-store shopping experience.
Blumenthal: Google Maps is/has become the primary discovery tool in many categories. That is a significant shift of which agencies and owners need to be aware.
Mihm: Yep. I’m not sure I would even have had our ThriveHive data science team look for this data point specifically had you not tipped me off. But sure enough, across our dataset of nearly 20,000 GMB Profiles, we found that Maps impressions outweigh Search impressions by nearly 3:1 (72% to 28% over the last 18 months).
Gimbal COO and CMO Matthew Russo says that at scale, indoor location technology is advanced enough that it works incredibly well. Russo says that at Gimbal, he has worked with major brand clients who are able to understand when a VIP walks into their lobby. They also know if the customer has waited too long at a check-in line, and they’re able to present customers with special offers or keyless check-ins at their rooms.
“But if you’re a pizzeria owner with a single storefront looking to send a push notification to people walking by, you probably won’t see the results you’re hoping for,” Russo says.
Could those scaling issues be holding back the indoor navigation industry, and if so, what’s the solution?
Enter Phase Three. As my column’s title suggests, I would argue that the old concept of citation building has largely lost its relevance, and that thinking of the local network as a system of channels — parallel, somewhat independent sources of consumer traffic — is a more appropriate paradigm for where we are now.
In all, there are approximately 10 independent sites and site categories that together make up the primary channels where any business should be well represented in order to be competitive.
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.