Mobile devices have changed how we work and navigate daily life, which means there's a tremendous opportunity to capitalise on the growing use of mobile apps.
Location-based services mean that retailers can leverage mobile devices and Bluetooth technology to provide offers to customers and prospects, help customers and employees navigate within locations, and locate friends, assets and services.
The good news is that in many cases, organisations already possess the technology needed to deploy location services. Bluetooth Low Energy is prevalent on popular iOS and Android devices. In addition, Wi-Fi is now pervasive in all malls and retail outlets.
The Middle East retail industry is a fast adopter of technology. Regional retailers are beginning to implement location-based solutions, but need to keep in mind the following key features:
The adoption of smartphones gives retailers an opportunity to leverage their existing Wi-Fi network to extract actionable location data. In-store experiences are dramatically improved through the adoption of the most advanced location-based solutions that allow for an array of analytics. This results in better customer experiences as well as operational effectiveness.
For example, a customer would be frustrated when after joining a loyalty programme, he/she discovers a favourite product is always missing from the aisle. With analytics from your loyalty app, you can focus attention on items your best customers purchase to keep them stocked.
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Beyond the personalisation and relevance benefits, here's yet another reason to deploy BLE-enabled location-ready infrastructure: you can rapidly take advantage of new experience innovations already in the pipeline to keep you ahead of your competition.
Map-enabled, indoor, turn-by-turn navigation via a customer's mobile app is swiftly becoming a competitive differentiator as customers can get easily frustrated when looking for particular retail outlet in a massive mall for example. A frustrating experience could be the ultimate deal-breaker.
More sophisticated location solutions go further by offering assistance empowerment, also known as location sharing. With this capability, customers can consult your shopping app to visually find nearby associates if they want help. Clicking an associate's icon enables sending that individual a pre-defined text. If the associate is occupied, they can respond with an availability estimate while also suggesting the consumer continue shopping because the associate can find them. With location-based services, all employees - including minimally-trained seasonal workers - can quickly assist customers or restock goods, minimising two perennial productivity drains. When an associate needs help, find-a-friend works the same way for them. Reducing these types of frictions can also significantly lower employee frustration, leading to less turnover and improved brand affinity.
The latest location-based solutions offer specialised sensors for tracking high-value items and inventory, ranging from carts and ladders to POS devices and pallets of goods. Easy-to-use mobile apps ensure that staff can quickly configure asset tags and then locate the physical assets within an indoor location.
Beyond these applications, location-based services can offer many more benefits. In addition to staying competitive today, deploying such infrastructure will reap rewards as innovations evolve for years to come.
By Ahmed Ibrahim
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