New iPhone indoor Maps spells an innovation opportunity for retailers

The iOS 11 update, which will feature on the new iPhone unveiled today, includes indoor maps allowing floor-by-floor navigation of complex indoor spaces such as airports and shopping malls, with searchable on-map information about stores and facilities inside them. The ability of customers to pinpoint their location within stores and complexes will have great benefits for retailers.

Following yesterday’s announcement of a 1.2% decline in retail footfall figures,[1] brick-and-mortar stores will be looking for ways to catch up with online sellers. In the run up to the Christmas period, where last year online sales grew at 8 times the rate of brick-and-mortar stores,[2] the challenge for retailers will be to utilise more precise location data to create increasingly interactive customer experiences and bridge the gap between their offline and online components.

Kelly White, London General Manager of WWT Asynchrony Labs, comments: “The recent footfall figures reflect the impact that the advance of online retail is making on brick-and-mortar stores. But being offline doesn’t mean physical stores can’t take advantage of data technology. Developments in IoT devices, increasingly supported by smartphone operating systems, mean that conventional retailers can still catch up with their online competitors.”

“Retailers can install IoT sensors into their stores that, using bluetooth beacons, can pinpoint a wireless device to a much more specific location for the benefit of customer and seller. Just as in shopping complexes and malls, large and complex warehouse stores can use this innovation to help customers find their way around to different products, and floor staff to find customers potentially in need of assistance.”

“This can also be used to update marketing strategies,” he continues. “Once shop floors can be precisely mapped, and customers located within them, specific product information and promotions can be attached to particular product locations. Customers who have downloaded the retailer’s app or are using the store’s WiFi can find more information on the products in their direct vicinity, or get access to special offers when approaching a product.”

“Nowadays, many customers compare in-store prices to deals they find online, which is a threat to physical shops that cannot adjust their prices as quickly. Retailers can use this new technology to compete for consumers, sending special offers to a customer’s phone for the product they’re looking at in store, directly.”

“This ability to locate customers also means that customer traffic can be mapped much more precisely. This will have important applications for retailers, who can adapt store layouts to this data to create a more intuitive experience for consumers, ultimately maximising revenue.”

WWT Asynchrony Labs are the mobile development wing of $9bn systems integrator World Wide Technology, who recently launched their first lab in the UK at the beginning of July. The company, which helps enterprises take hold of the opportunities of mobility, is part of Apple’s Mobility Partner Programme.

[1] British Retail Consortium, “August: Autumnal Feel for the High Street” https://brc.org.uk/retail-insight-analytics/other-kpis/footfall-and-vacancies-monitor/reports

[2] First Data, Holiday 2016 SpendTrend® Report, https://www.firstdata.com/en_us/about-first-data/media/press-releases/01_09_17.html

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