Micro-Location Technology - The New Age of In-Store Experiences

Blog / 03 Feb 2016

Tags: Customer Journey / Retail / User Experience / UX

Why Now?

Technological and behavioural trends are converging to create genuinely innovative opportunities for the in-store customer experience. The emergence of Bluetooth low energy (BLE) beacons, rising consumer usage of mobile and of shopping apps in particular, lead us towards the vision of brand apps which can respond to a customer’s interests, behaviour and physical journey in a retail store to deliver precise, targeted marketing in context, at the right place and the right time.

Let’s look at an example scenario:

  • A customer walks into a store and is greeted with a simple welcome message by the store app previously installed on their smart phone. In addition to addressing them by name, this message could highlight the location of an item in the store which they have previously browsed online or saved to their basket within the app.
  • As they browse the store they find another item of interest. Having remained beside this product for a certain time, the app is triggered to push a message offering further product details, a comparison against similar items in-store or even a discount - all helping to provide the customer with intent and confidence to purchase.
  • While the customer is waiting in line at the checkout, there is time for a friendly reminder of the benefits of a store loyalty card, which they can sign up for when they pay. If the customer data shows they already have a loyalty card, then reminding them of the points accrued and the amount they could save today will help cement brand relationship and encourage further custom in the future.
  • As they pass through the exit of the store, the app then offers the opportunity to thank the customer, perhaps provide a micro-reward integrated with a loyalty scheme. This moment could also provide an opportunity to ask a customer survey question for feedback on their experience in the store, when their memory is fresh and they are likely to be more receptive.

Where is the Real Opportunity?

There are two key elements that highlight why mobile app based micro-location technology promises such an exciting opportunity:

  • The ability to deliver messages in response to those micro-locations - creating clear relevance and purpose in a particular moment for the customer. The scenario above outlined just a few ways this could be utilised, every store will hold unique opportunities based on the brand, product range and physical layout.
  • Ability to capture the physical journeys of a customer in your store - beyond the direct communications described above, there is also huge value unlocked by gaining a better understanding of the unique habits and behaviours of each customer. Which areas of the store did they go to? At what pace? Where do they browse for longer? What might they be missing? Knowledge of this can improve visibility of the true experience and where the best opportunity is to enhance it; both in-store via the app and across channels back into their visits to your website later.

How to Create an Effective Strategy for Mobile In-Store?

Ensure your mobile in-store marketing strategy is informed by the all-important research and insight that will unlock the best customer response and ROI.

  • When are customers already using their devices across the store? How do they manage mobile interaction alongside their physical activity and immediate environment?
  • What are they trying to achieve? What paths do customers take and what behaviours do they show at the different points of their in-store journey? How do other people (co-shoppers or staff) influence their experience?

Of course targeting of micro-locations, without a good understanding of the above insights, is probably going to drive your customers away through any combination of frustration, unease and dissatisfaction.

Sending the wrong message will be irrelevant to the consumer, causing them to lose faith and switch off further updates. Herein lies a huge challenge to maintain real-time relevance whilst not violating the users’ personal ‘space’ – to ensure that recognition of user location is not employed in a way perceived to be weird or even scary. In this respect, too much intrusion could unsettle them into removing the app - cutting that line of communication with your customer in future - and maybe even send them out of your store with a negative memory that could deter future visits.

Tailored research on your customers’ journeys to purchase and within your physical stores will unlock the best return on investment for in-store location technology.