Imagine this. You’ve just walked into your local shopping mall when you hear that particular unmistakable jingle. As automatic as breathing your hand reaches into your bag and draws out your phone. Only it’s not a text or call your seeing, your phone is directing you down the crowded corridor. Instinctively you follow the line not sure where it’s leading, but you have no reason to fear, you’re phone has never lead you astray before. As the line ends you find yourself standing in front of a display case at Zales. Ah! You think that’s exactly what my spouse wants for our anniversary! You pull out your wallet and and get the clerk to wrap it up into a nice package, and voila anniversary gift shopping is done.
Retailers have begun experimenting with technologies that enable shopper to find products they want using their smartphones. A variety of products exist however they all basically operate under the same concept. By leading consumers right to the object of their desire brick and mortar stores are hoping to gain an edge over online shopping.
Two products in particular iBeacon & IndoorAtlas tackle the problem in different ways. iBeacon uses Bluetooth devices to alert the users of potential sale items and offers as they walk past the transmitter. IndoorAtlas works more like a traditional map app such as Google Maps to navigate users to stores and even specific products within a store. One major issue, however, is that consumers will need to install these apps and then use them when they are in a shopping center. This leads to some delays in deployment as the shoppers need to participate in the roll-out of these services.
“That’s due in part to the fact that we’re trying to teach them new behaviors,” Kindred said.
Adam Silverman, an analyst at Forrester Research, said that customers who are looking for something in a store find it easier to just ask a sales associate, rather than installing an app.
“Although it makes sense on paper, the customer hasn’t been fully engaged in some of these beacon-based technologies, mainly because it doesn’t make their shopping easier, or more engaging,” Silverman said.
Once these technologies become more mainstream the uses can branch out to more than just shopping. For example these apps can give travelers directions to their gate or baggage claim in an airport, or directions to a particular suite in an office building. Or even provide emergency evacuation instructions should an event arise.
Indoor mapping technology faces an uphill battle of user adoption. While it seems like a good idea only time will tell if it becomes a popular one. However, it gives us hope to reduce the labyrinth of today’s malls and airports to a manageable path. Can you see yourself using these apps?