Not only has the proliferation of mobile devices and technology had a profound effect on consumers, but entire industries themselves are now being forced to move where mobile is going. Jeff Russakow, CEO of Gimbal, joined MPD CEO Karen Webster to discuss empowering consumer engagement through emerging location intelligence technology.
It’s easy to think of engagement tools such as beacons being used to simply push information and deals onto a consumer as soon as they step foot into a retail location.
But the opportunity is expanding to harness the strength of proximity and location marketing via mobile, which allows merchants to reach consumers through new and powerful ways.
Russakow explained that for years now, digital has eaten the world, but in recent years it’s mobile that has eaten digital in no time flat.
“Even five years ago when we talked about the prototypical consumer or digital shopper, we were still visualizing somebody sitting in a darkened kitchen under a lightbulb staring at their laptop, just waiting for something to move on their Facebook page,” Russakow said. “A few short years later mobile devices have gotten so good, so pervasive, the screens so large and so fast, that the human race went back out into the light again.”
With consumers spending an ever-increasing amount of time either on or near their mobile devices, Russakow noted that the average adult spends 3 hours a day on their mobile device. For the other 21 hours a day that the phone is either in their pocket or next to their head while they sleep, retailers must now rethink the ways in which they are engaging with consumers through the use of location-based technologies.
Knowing when a consumer walks inside a retailer’s door just simply isn’t enough anymore.
THE POWER OF DATA
Brick-and-mortar merchants must now try to compete with online retailers, who are able to easily capture when a consumer is hitting a site, for how long, what they are looking at, and how that all ties back in real-time to demographic and behavioral data.
Gimbal aims to bring that same power of digital information to the physical retailers that could benefit from it the most.
Through the use of beacons and geofencing technologies, Russakow said that location and proximity marketing are enabling the ability for retailers to digitize the physical location of its consumers and essentially “make those 200 department stores look like and act like 200 webpages, and now you get that data back again.”
“You basically are getting back the same insight that an Amazon has had online all along. That’s the power of it, it’s basically digitizing the physical world,” Russakow added.
As retailers are maturing and broadening their view of beacons and the use cases they can enable, it’s opening doors to more relevant data that can be harnessed to ultimately revamp the entire in-store customer experience.
The idea is to make mobile apps truly mobile.
These “new, cool experiences” bring the usability of location and proximity marketing way beyond just advertising, as Russakow put it, and the possibilities can range anywhere from reminding customers to use their loyalty cards when they get close to the register to automatically ordering a consumer’s favorite drink as soon as they walk into their neighborhood coffee shop without them even having to wait in line.
Retailers can also utilize proximity and location marketing to help address a long-standing problem that’s evolved with the onset of eCommerce: boosting foot traffic and actually getting consumers in the store.
Russakow said this starts with making the in-store experience not just equivalent, but also superior to the experience consumers can find online.
EXPANDING THE PHYSICAL REACH
Making consumers aware of the presence of a retailer’s brand is what can truly drive foot traffic toward the store and ultimately inside the store. Russakow drew on the example of letting a consumer know when they are a block away from their favorite store or even reminding a shopper who just picked up party supplies at a certain location that they may want to grab beverages at a nearby shop.
Geofencing enables a retailer to see a consumer when they come inside the store, while also allowing the opportunity to analyze their behaviors when they are around town.
“The opportunity with location and proximity marketing means you’re not only seeing them when they come near the mustard in Aisle 3. You have the ability to see the entire journey of that consumer, which allows you to suggest store trips and bundling,” Russakow explained. “You really are getting a full holistic view of the person out and about, not just after they’ve arrived at the store.”
Webster also pointed out the use case for beacons which enables a consumer to essentially check in and be prompted to use a specific payment method during their shopping trip to make checkout easier.
As the number of different choices of loyalty and payment method options on both the phone and on smartwatches have increased, Russakow said there is greater competition among payments players to be the one that grabs the consumer’s attention during that “magic moment” when they are deciding which method of payment they would like to use.
“Given the number of technologies that have proliferated in the last year, we’ve seen that interest actually accelerate quite a bit, not diminish,” he added.
EVOLVING CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT
There is a huge opportunity available to retailers to drastically change and improve the relationships they establish with their shoppers by being able to directly target them and influence their actions in-store.
While this unlocks a great deal of potential for retailers, it also opens the door to beacons and geofencing being put to use in more innovative and meaningful ways.
“The ability to be targeted and be able to understand and have a direct relationship with the consumer, either through your own app or through other major mobile apps, allows you to begin the relationship well before the person decides to go to the store and make a brand selection then continue it in the store,” Russakow stated.
Gimbal’s role is helping retailers take advantage of the location and proximity opportunities available to them. This starts by keeping a larger focus on consumers across industries, recognizing a need for a more rounded view of consumer behavior, and working with mobile publishers and digital networks to continue opening up the consumer world, Russakow added.
“We’ve seen a lot of players focus on just retail, but there is great value in having a single network that sees the consumer across retail, restaurants, entertainment, travel, lifestyle, etc., to really be able to get a full 360-degree view of that consumer and to be able to get context to be able to better target them.”