Hundreds of retailers are implementing location technology and in-store features to add a store mode layer to their existing mobile apps. Store mode optimizes customer experiences through mobile app features that can be used in-store, including barcode scanners, coupons, personalized offers, and wayfinding, often increasing engagement fivefold.
The Five Fundamental Building Blocks of Store Mode
Implementing store mode isn’t as difficult (or time-consuming) as you may think. Here’s how retailers can prepare to add store mode to their existing app:
1. Digitizing maps
An accurate in-store map is the first step to Store Mode. It unlocks a host of other features, including wayfinding, product location, aisle location, and proximity-based push notifications. Indoor mapping in retail poses two significant challenges. Firstly, manually creating digital maps for hundreds (or even thousands) of diverse stores is incredibly time-consuming which can delay your app launch considerably. Secondly, keeping maps updated in a retail environment that changes their layout frequently according to the retail calendar and changing seasons, promotions, and displays is a never-ending task. Fortunately, tools like MapScale® can retrieve existing maps of all stores in any format and convert them in a fraction of the time it would take using a manual conversion. Maps can be upgraded and changed in seconds with simple cloud-based mapping tools. Once this step has been completed, the groundwork is laid for rich and engaging location-aware features.
Watch how Home Depot has enabled digital maps & Store Mode in their app:
2. Tagging inventory
The next step is to create a planogram - a diagram of where products are placed inside the store. This planogram should be aligned with your digital map and points of interest, like restrooms, customer service desks, displays or promotions. The digital map and the planogram need to be closely integrated. If someone brings up a SKU, the planogram should be able to pinpoint the SKU for the specific store (e.g. department, aisle, bin).
When the right planogram and AI-driven location tech are in place, maps update automatically and in real-time, even if displays, aisles, and products move. This will help customers find exactly what they are looking for, even in mega-stores comprising several floors.
3. Blue Dot Positioning
With stores like Macy’s or Home Depot that take up thousands of square feet of floor space and multiple storeys, simply indicating which aisle a product is located in isn’t enough guidance to help a customer find what they are looking for. Indoor blue-dot positioning will enable retailers to guide shoppers to the products on their shopping list turn-by-turn (much like GPS positioning does outdoors). Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) hardware is the cheapest, most accurate and most secure enabler of indoor location technology. The hardware can be implemented as standalone beacons, or reside inside WiFi access points or inside smart lighting, sensors and cameras. Together with a SDK (Software Development Kit) that resides inside the mobile, you can calculate the user’s real time location in the app with great accuracy. The SDK helps retailers steer customers to general points of interest, like bathroom facilities, customer service, or elevators.
4. GPS & Bluetooth Geofencing
Geofencing is a location-based service in which an app uses Bluetooth, cellular data, RFID, or Wi-Fi to trigger an action when a mobile device embedded with the SDK enters or leaves a virtual digital boundary set up around a specific area, known as a geofence. Many retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart use GPS Geofencing that enables them to automatically activate store mode when a customer enters the store. Bluetooth Geofencing can send customers promotional push notifications when they enter a specific area, department, or aisle, e.g., directing their attention to a special offer, urging them to sign up for a loyalty program, or simply welcoming them to the store.
5. Perfecting your UI
Once all of the tools are in place, it’s time to focus on the UI (user interface) of your retail app. As with any app, it should be clean, clear, and intuitive to use in store mode. It’s also important to modify the user interface based on real-world shopping experiences and not online shopping experiences. For instance, in-store shoppers want to cross items off their lists as they add them to the cart, but not necessarily delete them so they can re-add their favorites when they visit the store again. Shopping between in-store mode and online mode should be seamless and automatic.
Apps like Macy’s also add virtual viewers and style boards so that shoppers can view furniture in their homes or “try-on” items they like without entering a fitting room. Shoppers can also scan barcodes on the shelf to read reviews and place online orders. London’s famous Harrods store uses point of interest filters to find restaurants, counters, events, and even facilities with ease. App users can also read Harrod’s Edit Magazine for free, which is filled with news and tutorials.
6. Location Analytics
Adding store mode to a retail app gives retailers one more advantage: analytics. Retailers can link location information and customer profiles to gain even deeper insights into the behavior of customers while they are in-store. This can be used to improve the promotional offers, marketing exercises, and even next steps to make store mode even more effective than it already is. Data can be viewed in real-time, at any time.
To support personalized communication, it’s best to use a CRM or Customer Data Profile system. This enables retailers to store and utilize information about their customers, including their in-store routes, the departments they visit, the amount of time they spend in each department and how often they revisit the store. The information can be fed into different marketing orchestration platforms and used to deliver personalized marketing messages or promotions to customers.
Every good retail app Store Mode starts with location data and mapping. This not only provides the basis to assist shoppers but can provide greater flexibility, operational efficiency, and insight into stores and inventory. If you are a retailer and would like to know more, reach out to Pointr for an obligation-free demo.