Will Indoor Mapping and Deals Apps Save Shopping Malls?
The growing trend of show-rooming where consumers get hands-on with a product in a physical store before looking it up on their smartphones to purchase online at a lower price is increasingly becoming a thorn in the side of the physical stores inside shopping malls all over the world.
I recently found myself in an Adidas store and the same running shoes were 30% cheaper on their website. When I pointed this out at the counter to see if they could price match their online store, I was informed this would not be possible which left me feeling a little confused and frustrated why these two worlds are separated.
Retailers have been looking for a silver bullet that will help them adapt to these new behaviours and it seems technology might finally be ready to bring retail into the 21st century. The only question is if privacy concerned shoppers that are suffering from app fatigue and increasingly sensitive to intrusive advertising will hop on board this latest experiment.
The largest shopping centre operator in the UK, Intu are launching an interesting app that features indoor mapping that will allow savvy shoppers to see their location as a blue dot on a digital map. This enables users to plan their route around their favourite stores and instantly see which have the best offers available from their phones during their visit.
Indoor mapping and beacon technology have been appearing in the headlines on a regular basis and many believe they have the power to revolutionise our shopping experience. The ability to engage with all visitors in close proximity and send direct messages is becoming increasingly attractive to those wanting to encourage everyone to increase their average spend.
Monitoring footfall, dwell time and having the power to adapt to spending patterns and send offers such as “Free Coffee” to tempt people inside on slow days is an invaluable tool for quick thinking managers.
Although this technology offers fantastic opportunities to retailers, it is heavily reliant on consumers downloading yet another app to their smartphone who also need to agree to be tracked and receive messages by eager store owners. How do you get privacy concerned shoppers to download and use yet another app?
Intu’s app takes a slightly different approach of connecting over WiFi and does not send intrusive notifications but allows the user to navigate and select offers of information based on their own unique customer journey.
As consumers, you could be forgiven for thinking if we really need another smartphone app to navigate our way around when most are quite happy wandering around without staring down at a screen. However, I wonder if this slightly different approach by Intu will master the illusive art of convincing shoppers to both download and proudly keep an app on their smartphones home screen.
Shoppers have become both savvy and sophisticated with their use of technology to instantly check prices, item quality and online reviews before committing to a purchase. More and more people are also leaving their cash at home and paying with their phone thanks to the adoption of services such as Apple Pay which already illustrates where the future of retail lies.
Many are becoming increasingly paranoid about being constantly tracked and worry about where all these personal data is going. However, the United Airlines app is another excellent example that does not track its customers or have any ulterior motives other than to help their passengers get through an airport.
Beacon technology started life as a buzzword that everyone jumped on, but intrusive messaging left disillusioned users turning their battery draining Bluetooth off in unison. However, it seems that many of these lessons have been learned and attitudes are evolving and this should make the next 18 months quite exciting when the inevitable age of mobile fully evolves.
Its fantastic to see that retailers are finally realising that show-rooming is not a threat but a great opportunity to engage with their customers and their changing habits to ensure its your products they buy, whether it be in-store or online and paid via their debit card, mobile or cash.
Have you been involved with a shopping mall, venue or company that has embraced this technology? I am really interested in any lessons learned along the way and the reliability of beacon technology.