Tapping Into the Profit Power of Geolocation for Retail

By: Pam Baker| - Leave a comment


Most retailers are using some form of geolocation in their stores now, be it by installing one or more types of location sensors or reading data exhaust from passing consumer phones. The most common execution of geolocation analysis comes in the form of a combination of advanced technologies, including mobile apps, geolocation tools and real-time data analytics.

“Location-sensing technologies in retail typically involve customers using the retailer’s app, or a third-party app, and ceding permission to track their location in return for a better experience or reward,” Robert Haslehurst and Dan McKone explained in the Harvard Business Review.

You can locate your customers’ general position in the store through their phone’s GPS capability. For more accurate and granular geolocation data, use your store’s Wi-Fi, light-based triangulation or beacons. All of these require an updated infrastructure capable of gathering and analyzing the data as quickly as customers move about on the floor. From that information, retailers can gain insights into a number of consumer behaviors, ranging from which displays and products draw the most attention to which shoppers are loyal and/or social media influencers.

What You Can Gain From Geolocation Data

By adding geolocation information to other data sets, such as those from loyalty programs and customer relationship management (CRM), retailers can influence purchases in real time and improve their in-store processes to optimize sales and reduce overhead.

Pairing a customer’s location with in-the-moment feedback can provide an excellent means to respond immediately to save, make or increase the sale.

“For example, a retailer might ask for customer feedback on interactions with sales associates and then use the results to rate employee performance,” Haslehurst and McKone wrote. “Employees would then be able to see how specific activities impact their scores, providing a highly visible incentive to improve.”

To tie together new capabilities like this, first make sure your hardware is set to handle the extra computing load and traffic that new software and computing tasks require. You may want to start by using a hardware calculator to evaluate your infrastructure.

Map your store to see what additional hardware is needed for Wi-Fi triangulation, geofencing and geotargeting. If you need additional devices for these capabilities, be sure to run regular performance tests. Using a hardware calculator and taking advantage of infrastructure analytics will help you keep everything running smoothly and deliver the real-time insights you need to leverage these capabilities.

Even More Benefits From In-Store Geolocation

Additional examples of how retailers can benefit from in-store geolocation data include:

  • Optimizing store design;
  • Refining store area (expanding or shrinking);
  • Upselling through suggestive offers;
  • Improving the customer experience by enabling the consumer to summon sales help via phone, rate the in-store experience or make suggestions while in-store; and
  • Determining traffic patterns for granular staffing planning.

The ideas — and benefits — are almost endless.

Making Sense of the Data

The key is to understand what your customers are telling you before they actually tell you.

According to one IBM paper, “Combining data from a diverse set of data resources — some of which may not even be owned by the company — and adding customer sentiment data, geolocation data, customer preference analysis and market trending information based on contextual text analytics all add up to provide a level of understanding of market dynamics previously unavailable to the industry.”

It is essential to optimize your IT infrastructure to leverage these technologies and enable the immediate use of the data they bring. You’ll want it to be able to scale with demand, for one thing. Geolocation data tends to be large and dynamic, meaning it is changing constantly, so your infrastructure must be flexible enough to face any task.

Adding infrastructure analytics will also help you correlate real-time and predictive mobile app behaviors with analytics from your mobile application infrastructure. This can render greater insights into mobile app usage, availability, performance and capacity.

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About The Author

Pam Baker

Freelance Writer

Pam Baker is an award-winning freelance journalist based in Georgia. Her published credits number in the thousands, including books, e-books, e-briefs, white papers, industry analysis reports and articles in leading publications, including Institutional Investor, CIO, Fierce Markets and InformationWeek, among many others. Her latest book, "Data Divination: Big Data Strategies," has been met with rave reviews, was featured in a prestigious National Press Club event, is recommended by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for business executives and is currently being used as a textbook in both business and tech schools in universities around the world. Baker is a "big-picturist," meaning she enjoys writing on topics that overlap and interact, such as technology and business. Her fans regualrly follow her work in science, technology, business and finance.

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