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Engaging customers through location-enabled technology

17 September, 2014

Location based information services have been talked about a lot over the past decade and seem to be finally coming of age.

Retail and customer service companies across all industries are starting to use GPS, WiFi, and Beacons to understand which promotions are driving customers to their stores and what content is keeping them engaged within these stores, and the length of their presence with the stores.

With the help of these technologies, the retail sector can easily target its audience and engage in location based marketing.

So, how do these technologies work and how can we use them to engage customers?

The adoption of smartphones globally has been on a rapid rise and consumers reach for their devices to help them in nearly all daily information and functional tasks. Consumers are using social apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin to stay in touch with their professional and personal contacts. They are using mobile websites or apps from Amazon, eBay, or similar regional variants, to search for product information and make purchases. Smartphone users are more likely to use a branded retail or restaurant app for information on its location, products and services offered, than to call the store or restaurant for the same details.

With smartphones packing in more sensors and radios, location management has improved and apps have access to the functions to record and monitor outdoor and now, indoor location of consumers using a variety of technologies.

Using this location data, retail stores and brands can improve their offering of engaging content and services to smartphone users. They can also target offers and information based on a user's location and context much more accurately than before.

Location based information provides convenience to consumers by alerting them of tracked locations near them so that they will not miss an offer or promotion.

How location technologies work

In order to use location information about a user, the app needs to request and receive acceptance from the user for location tracking.

Consumers, from within the app, can be provided with options to choose specific locations that they are interested in to receive information and offers from these locations.

In the beginning, GPS based information was the only option available to provide information to users on their location and content available based on location. GPS allows for tracking users in unobstructed, outdoor spaces where the longitude and latitude data from orbital satellites can be received by smartphones for location enablement.

Beacons - location based technology

Geo-fences can be enabled around required locations and when a registered user of an app crosses in or out of a geo-fence, the user can be tracked and alerts related to the geo-fence can be sent to him. For instance, the user may be welcomed to a mall or provided an offer by the app based on a geo-fence set around the mall. As most users enable their GPS service and experience the value of geo-location information, they will not have reservations in sharing their location information.

Until recently, indoor locations relied on the use of WiFi networks to locate users of smartphones within the location and in turn provided them guided navigation and offers based on their position within the location. Using WiFi based RTLS (Real Time Location System), consumer can be accurately tracked anywhere inside a building. Due to privacy concerns and related issues, new smartphones may not be able to use this technology. For example, iOS 8 has now made it difficult for WiFi networks to maintain record of devices accessing them.

Finally, Beacons brings an exciting new addition to location targeting of smartphones and users of apps to engage these consumers in close proximity to these beacons.

Effectively, beacons are simple devices that emit a unique signal that an app, which is monitoring the location tagged by the beacon, can use to determine its proximity to the beacon and pop-up a notification or offer for the user of the app.

Using Beacon technology, marketers can trigger timely and relevant information to their target consumers based on their exact locations within a retail store.

Each of these technologies brings its benefits to enhance location-based engagement with consumers and if used well together they can provide a seamless and well-planned experience for consumers without becoming overly intrusive.

How to use location based engagement

To best utilize location data, the wise decision would be to leverage a combination of GPS, WiFi, and Beacon technology. Each of these provides it advantages and if coupled, these technologies provide marketers with better control of when and how to engage with the customer.

With Geo-fencing providing a macro view of consumers and their presence in target areas, marketers can send content to drive them to their stores. Once the consumer is within the building or closer to the target destination, WiFi can enhance their experience during the visit and provide navigation and guidance to promotions. Using Beacons, in close proximity, can then allow the brand marketer to focus the consumers' attention to a specific item or offer.

Combining this with previous shopping and browsing history, alerts and offers can be sent to consumers who have previously demonstrated affinity for these areas.

Rewarding customers with repeated visits to a location can be easily be enabled using these location technologies.

Use of all three of these can be built into native mobile apps with the app deciding on when to effectively use information from each of the location based data sources.

Timely communication to customers at key stages during their customer journey is very important and if the message is tailored to be informative and with the intent to support the customers purchase, then the customer will also react to the communication positively.

Above all, it is important to give the consumer the ability to enable or disable this tracking and promotions related to location. The consumer should not be inundated with offers and should only be given information that they are interested in to avoid a negative response to the app and campaigns.

With the help of these location based promotions, retail stores and other customer service companies can learn customers’ interaction within the location, and what makes them return to the location.

How can Unique Computer Systems Help

Unique Computer Systems is continuously innovating its offering and enhancing solutions for customers with cutting-edge features to help them better utilize location based technology.

We have recently worked on solutions for enabling mobile apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone to use geo-fence and beacon information for welcoming users to the targeted areas and to alert them of offers and information when they approach beacons placed close to specific products.

Get in touch with us on how we can demonstrate technology to improve you customer-profiling, location based marketing and analysis of data from location based campaigns.

For more information visit www.ucssolutions.com/services/mobile-application-development/ or contact sales@ucssolutions.com to request a demo.


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