Interactive Maps Help Bring Back Shoppers After Covid Hiatus

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.

Location Weekly: Torrid Deploys Personalized Maps in Email Marketing

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.

Triangulating Apple Maps: The Tech Angle

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?

How to Use Maps for Local Marketing

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.

Street Fight’s September Theme: Mapping the Future

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 “Promote Local Place”: The Deeper Dive

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.

Three Ways Indoor Maps Do More for Complex Retail Buildings

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.

These Retailers Are Using Mapping Tech to Change the Shopping Experience

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.

Google Maps: The Under-Appreciated Discovery Channel

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).

What Comes Next for Indoor Navigation? Enterprise Success, SMB Struggles

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?

Channels Are the New Citations

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.

5 Privacy-Focused Mapping Solutions

Mainstream navigation apps like Google Maps and Waze seem to dominate the marketplace, but consumers who are interested in maintaining as much online privacy as possible have options to choose from, too.

Innovative mapping and navigation companies are launching new platforms with user privacy in mind. Framing themselves as the “private” alternative to general use navigation apps, these platforms collect minimal personal data from users and often work without tracking user locations.

Here are five examples of privacy-focused mapping platforms.

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.

Latest Local Marketing Merger Aims for Scale in Critical Listings Management Sector

Uberall’s acquisition of Navads highlights the importance of listings management and its integration with reputation management. Street Fight’s latest survey of multi-location brands shows a correlation between use of both these types of services and the overall effectiveness of local marketing.

MapQuest Tackling More Location Data and Services Under Verizon Ownership

Elise Neel, the head of MapQuest for business, spoke to Street Fight recently about the ways marketers now regard and value location data, the role mixed reality may play in mapping, and what it means for MapQuest to operate under Verizon’s ownership.

Hexagon Geospatial Aims to Make Maps More Important Than Ever Using Geo-data and Analytics

These days, we rely on maps not only to provide us a route, but also to be relevant in real-time. If a road is closed, we expect our map app to tell us as much. If a place of business we were planning on driving to is no longer open, then our map better have that information.