Augmented Shopping: Set to Transform Retail Sooner Than You Think

Peggy Salz

Peggy Anne Salz, founder of MobileGroove

It was less than a year ago that the MMA UK published Mobile: The Great Connector, a comprehensive publication that revealed how many verticals, including retail, were harnessing mobile to bridge the digital and physical ‘worlds’ to drive conversions and boost customer loyalty.

Fast forward, and we are witnessing the advance of projects and pilots aimed to ‘blend’ these worlds together to make shopping immersive and — at the same time — enable bricks-and-mortar retailers to (re)gain control of the in-store environment in order to optimize, personalize and monetize the advice and advertising they deliver shoppers on their mobile devices.

The recent Google I/O Developer Conference provided us a glimpse into this not-so-distant future. I’m talking here about the tie-up between Google’s Project Tango and aisle411, a company specializing in indoor mapping, to make in-store shopping with mobile devices much more immersive and rewarding for consumer.

A review of their combined solutions strengths shows why we can expect this vision is set to become reality much sooner than we think.

  • Google’s Project Tango is a multi-partner effort that has produced a disruptive new technology for creating 3D maps of indoor spaces with the ability to show a user’s precise location and orientation within centimeters of accuracy.
  • aisle411 has a long track record and powers over 12,500 searchable store maps for retailers including Walgreens, Home Depot and Marsh. Its indoor/in-store mobile marketing platform technology allows it to collect, organize, and monetize retailers’ product inventory location data, and optimize this information for display and delivery via the retailer’s mobile app.

The video below shows how the combined capabilities of Google’s Project Tango and aisle411 can power an amazing 3D augmented reality experience inside the store.

The next months will see new Project Tango technology piloted in multiple locations with major retailers, including several Walgreens stores in the U.S. in the coming months.

It’s a given that augmented shopping isn’t here — yet.

But many retailers, feeling the pressure to remain relevant in a world where the vast majority of smartphone shoppers use their devices for pre-shopping activities, are reaching to indoor solutions to optimize (and monetize) mobile shopping in their stores.

It’s a smart strategy if we consider that shopping influenced by mobile (apps and Internet) and concluded in a physical store is a huge opportunity that plays in favor of real-world shops, not online ones. Opus Research calls this the online-to-offline commerce opportunity, and estimates spending on it is roughly 10x the amount spent on traditional e-commerce (digital/mobile), or a whopping $1.83 trillion (!).

Significantly, indoor and in-store solutions — particularly those that guide shoppers to the product on the shelf — do more than fight showrooming. These solutions are also the core of the capabilities that will allow stores to excel in the business of selling ‘experiences’, not just stuff.

At one level, it’s all about removing the friction and satisfying the needs of increasingly mobile-savvy shoppers by streamlining the delivery of personalized recommendations, discounts and loyalty points. (Of course, shoppers will have to consent to be exposed to offers, recommendations and rewards at the aisle level, but this shouldn’t be a challenge if the value proposition retailers offer is convincing and built on convenience.)

But it doesn’t have to stop there.

Indoor and in-store solutions — like aisle411 — which merge digital data (about products and their exact location in the store provided and updated by the retailer) with the real-world shopping journey can take this a massive step further.

In fact, Nathan Pettyjohn, aisle411 CEO, has shared with me some of the ‘experiences’ his retail customers are preparing to deliver. Interestingly, they depend on mobile to present shoppers with a completely personalized store where they only ‘see’ what they need, want or would appreciate.

On a low-sodium diet and only want to see products your doctor recommends? Solutions that harness mobile to bridge the digital and physical worlds make this possible. Want to be guided through a store by a celebrity or shown the newest, coolest toys by a super hero? Again, retail is being re-invented with the help of mobile to make this reality.

Clearly, mobile brings shoppers into the stores and now it’s the tremendous power of mobile that will allow retailers to keep them there.

Precise positioning in the store enables precise targeting, allowing retailers to run campaigns with brands and marketers to deliver personalized offers, recommendations, coupons, points etc, to shoppers when they are in the right need state and — more importantly — in the right aisle. But it also empowers retailers to deliver engaging experiences that their online rivals cannot.

Peggy Anne Salz,
Founder of MobileGroove

One thought on “Augmented Shopping: Set to Transform Retail Sooner Than You Think

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