Aisle411 Aims To Be Shoppers’ In-Store GPS

Do supermarket aisles have you on an endless search for specialty items? Spending minutes wandering the same aisle? Sick of flagging down store clerks only to be pointed in the wrong direction?

If so, aisle411 offers a product that could signal a bold, and less irritating, new future for shoppers, while opening up new channels for business that cater to this demographic’s needs in the process.

Founded in 2008, the St. Louis-based company allows shoppers, retailers and brand advertisers to leverage indoor location data mapping through a mobile app. While this may sound complex, the program essentially functions like a GPS, providing maps and layouts consumers can use to maneuver through the aisles of their favorite stores. But the app goes further than this, as shoppers who follow the app will also receive customized recommendations that give businesses another avenue for revenue.

The retail navigation service is now updated for use in more than 12,000 stores across the country, and the company recently announced that 2,000 Home Depot locations have joined its ranks. Other notable retailers that have signed on to leverage the innovative technology include Walgreens – one of the largest retailers in the nation – and smaller outlets like Price Chopper, Shop ‘n Save and Winco.

But, while aisle411 is clearly making inroads on its goal of more widespread adoption by stores and their customers, many consumers are still unfamiliar or unaware of the company’s product. Likewise, in order to get its app and analytics in the hands of more consumers and retailers, aisle411 will need to secure more contracts with high-profile businesses to make the program a must-have.

All of these questions can seem as confusing as a cluttered shopping aisle. But, Nathan Pettyjohn, the company’s CEO, is optimistic about the future.

Pettyjohn spoke with PYMNTS.com to discuss topics like his app’s in-store product recommendation features, the wide range of new data this type of app makes available and how his brand is evolving with customer feedback toward its future goals.

PYMNTS.com: What was the inspiration for the aisle411 platform? As with the best ideas, it seems like it should have existed already.

Nathan Pettyjohn: Aisle411 was born out of a need to solve a big problem. The moment of inspiration happened as I spent 10 minutes in a home improvement store trying to find a surge protector. Ten minutes later and three associates sending me to the wrong area of the store lead to a light bulb moment of organizing all the in-store inventory and location data, and making it easily available on a mobile device for a shoppers.

National consumer and retailer research found that customers asking where to find a product in a store is the number one question asked in a store, and that retailers lose on average 20 percent of their potential revenue due to customer walk-outs where shoppers can’t find what they want, or get the help they need, so they leave the store without buying.

As the three arrows in aisle411’s logo imply, we bring together the retailer, shopper and brand where “X” marks the spot.

Most significant to how this has evolved is that leading retailers are now leveraging aisle411 as part of their multi-channel strategies designed to help shoppers buy whether they are online, [using] mobile or [at a] store. With 80 percent of smartphone owners claiming to use their smartphone in-store to help them shop, retailers are being forced to offer unique in-store mobile experiences that engage shoppers and assist them in the buying process. Aisle411’s indoor searchable maps platform lays the foundation for retailers to create unique in-store context relevant experiences for their shoppers, and fills the missing digital gap in the current mobile payments world, which is the digital and mobile experience that takes place from the door to transaction.

Imagine highly relevant offers revealed in-aisle, based on why you came in the store,that can be redeemed by paying with your phone before leaving the store. We’re at the cusp of closing this loop in the coming months.

How does your app’s in-store product recommendation engine work, and how does it allow consumers to make purchases from their phone?

Aisle411’s recommendation engine recommends products based on the item you search for, or items you check off of your shopping list, combined with the location of those products and others that are relevant. For example, if you’ve mapped your grocery list, which contains pretzels and party napkins, aisle411 allows a message for a particular brand of soda or brand of salsa to be recommended, along with exactly where the shopper can go pick up that item in the store. We’ve seen click-through rates for shoppers adding items to their shopping list double when targeted in-store based on search vs. a run-of-site ad.

When your website talks about the never-before-seen data your service can provide, what specific metrics are you talking about? And how do you see this data driving future mobile commerce?

We’re able to understand specific in-store shopping behavior such as in-store search, shopping list make-up, how shoppers react to relevant product recommendations. We see this driving the future of mobile commerce by allowing recommendations tied to mobile payments and loyalty, and thereby shifting billions of dollars of marketing spend to the mobile in-store experience that will be able to show real-time return on investment, just as traditional eCommerce SEM can today.

In an age where consumers demand instant results, how is your brand continuing to respond to consumer and retailer feedback?

Aisle411 continues to simplify the user experience and increase the speed and accuracy of our location-based search results. Retailers have invested significantly in their stores, and the mobile experience should be an enhancement to the store, without overpowering the experience. Ultimately, aisle411 is simplifying the ability to buy products in-store.

Your brand just signed a deal with Home Depot and is available in 12,000 stores. But it still remains under the radar. What challenges do you see in the future and what does the next year hold for aisle411?

Aisle411 has focused on creating strong credibility and brand presence within the retail trade community. We’re seeing the results of those efforts adding multiple top retailers to our platform across several retail verticals. Over the next year, aisle411 will expand its retail partner accounts significantly, and add new location based products that empower retailers big and small to connect with shoppers both near their store and in their stores.

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Latest Insights: 

The Which Apps Do They Want Study analyzes survey data collected from 1,045 American consumers to learn how they use merchant apps to enhance in-store shopping experiences, and their interest in downloading more in the future. Our research covered consumers’ usage of in-app features like loyalty and rewards offerings and in-store navigation, helping to assess how merchants can design apps to distinguish themselves from competitors.

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