As consumer demand for digital products, services and experiences continues to grow, physical retailers have turned toward store transformation solutions to keep up with eCommerce growth. This push isn’t limited to retailers — malls also stand to benefit from upping their digital offerings to meet consumer demand.
“The consumer expects more,” said Hongwei Liu, cofounder and CEO of indoor mapping and search SaaS startup Mappedin. “They expect a digital search experience, they expect a digital navigation experience. Really, they expect the same thing indoors as they get outdoors.”
Founded in Ontario, Canada, in 2011, Mappedin began with a simple premise.
“We wanted to help people find things,” Liu said. “We wanted to build something that would help people find their classes on campus, their gate at the airport, a store in the mall.”
Mappedin provides its mapping SaaS to major mall property managers in Canada and has been expanding internationally. Recently, the company announced its work with retail real estate leader Simon Property Group to deploy dynamic digital maps at over 200 locations.
Mappedin’s software tools improve upon the traditional, time-consuming way facility managers maintain and update indoor maps. Liu noted that many still rely on paper blueprint-based mapping methodologies.
“They need to solve for real-time actors with better data,” Liu said, “and there was no way to scale this manual, paper-based process that they were keeping afloat.”
Mappedin’s core map editor allows teams to collaborate on a single browser to continuously update map data. While there are other companies working on 3D mapping technologies, Liu noted Mappedin distinguished itself by solving for the indoor mapping workflow pain point with a functional SaaS product.
“Instead of spending 10 hours a quarter managing the information,” Liu said, “you can spend five minutes a week. You save time, it’s up to date and the results are fully functional interactive 3D maps.”
The functional data set that Mappedin’s software enables is also useful for property leasing and operational planning, Liu noted, along with its consumer and broader store transformation use cases.
Lui said the digital maps and A-to-B direction capabilities can be found inside native apps, on-site touchscreen directories, as well as on desktop and mobile web — the latter representing the majority of consumer access.
The use cases of Mappedin’s technology extends well beyond the shopping mall into the broader brick-and-mortar retail ecosystem and further. The company is looking to scale up its operations.
Mappedin already works with major retail clients in Canada, Liu said, including the largest national bookstore chain, general retailer and sporting goods store.
“We’re starting in Canada, since it’s our home turf,” Liu said, “but we’re looking into other retail opportunities in the U.S. as well.”
Mappedin is also working to develop a strong base of technical partners, Liu said, who will be named in an upcoming announcement. These partners service airports, campuses, transit stations and path networks.
“They already deliver some form of a technical solution,” he said, “often digital networks of static screens. But their customers have been asking for them to insert way-finding, so they understand the pain. They bring us scale, they bring us integration, and deals ready to go. ”