A little over a month ago, iOS 8 was released in beta to developers, and one of its key features are enhancements to geolocation capabilities. In particular, iOS 8 will take advantage of the M7 processor in the iPhone 5 and allow developers to take advantage of indoor positioning systems (IPS) that offer great accuracy of information when indoors.
I’ll spare you the exciting technical things, which are really cool, but I’m sure most folks will wonder what this means for eCommerce and Retailers. Here are just a few possibilities:
- I’ve written previously about OmniChannel / MultiChannel and the necessity of offering shoppers a great user experience while in-store. The M7 offers even more location accuracy so a shopper trying to locate items in a typical location could be redirected to alternate locations within the store such as an end cap.
- Shoppers could be directed to in-store flash sale items that are offered at a special price only temporarily. Think “blue light special” on steroids.
- Imagine a mobile app that can not only direct a shopper to the closest store, but directly to the item within the store. Perhaps I’m the stereotypical male shopper, but the thought of being able to go directly to what I want to buy, pick it up, check out, and leave…well, it makes me feel happy inside.
- Stores could add directions to the customer service counter and even to the nearest employee — a little odd sounding, but bear with me here. I’m sure others have been in a big box store or a large home improvement center, for example, and sometimes it’s difficult to find someone to help you. Imagine starting the store’s app and being able to locate the nearest employee, or even request help directly from your mobile device and that help comes directly to you.
- Looking for an item that requires a customer service rep to help you? That locked item or a heavy appliance that requires in-store assistance? Key it into the app and a customer service rep will know where you are and can bring the item to you.
- Stores could run interesting promotions with mystery sales. Mobile app users could receive a push notification that a mystery sale is being held during a stores slower hours, dinner time perhaps, and shoppers have to come into proximity of the item on sale to get the deal. Sure, shoppers would tweet about the item on sale, but that’s a bonus. Having more shoppers in the store during slow times would be a boon for business.
- To build on the above idea, anyone that finds the sale items to be out of stock could be sent a coupon to order the item online. I’m on my soap box here, but don’t try to charge customers shipping for the item when they’ve already made the trek to your physical store.
Taking a peek into the iOS 8 SDK shows there are a number of exciting things planned for the near future. Retailers have a great opportunity to be creative and harness these capabilities to drive customer engagement (and sales) to new levels!