The Black Friday shopping period is, by now, synonymous with the best and worst of retail. On one hand, it’s known as the perfect moment for shoppers to grab a great deal, when customers are most engaged and receptive to retailers and their messaging, and the point when life-long bonds between retailers and shoppers can be forged. On the other hand, overcrowding, competitiveness, stock shortages and scepticism about finding what you’re looking for have led many to begin staying away and doing their shopping solely online.
Help, however, is at hand. Indoor maps, available via Store Mode-enabled apps, in-store kiosks and online, are rapidly becoming a must-have part of any major retail chain’s omnichannel strategy. Customer expectations for the indoor experience when it comes to maps and wayfinding technology are rapidly converging with their expectations for outdoors, where apps such as Google Maps and Apple Maps have made pinpoint navigation a simple, accessible feature of everyday life.
In the past, several major retailers have attempted to provide customers with maps over the Black Friday period.
In these examples from Target and Walmart, the maps are static, with no wayfinding or re-orientation available. The scales are relatively large, meaning that the precise product locations within aisles, shelves and bins are not immediately obvious. While these maps are much better than no option at all, they still leave much to be desired from a user experience perspective.
The future of Black Friday retailing maps with Pointr
There are few moments when an intuitive, map-enabled in-app Store Mode has the opportunity to shine as much as over the Black Friday/ Cyber Monday period. Here are a few examples of use cases being pioneered by companies such as Pointr, and how they pertain specifically to Black Friday.
Highlighting deals directly on the map
Points of interest (POI) are critical to a map’s efficacy, and tying these into an easy-to-use CMS (such as Pointr Cloud) which can handle dynamic updates is crucial for making indoor maps work in a retail environment. As all retailers know, Black Friday can present a maelstrom of price changes, unexpected stock issues and demand patterns that can shift by the hour - keeping customers up to date is crucial to keeping them happy and improving average basket values.
Being able to manage POIs on the map, down to the ability to show precisely where the most popular or trending deals are exactly within the store, will soon be a must-have feature for major retailers. POI visibility can also be tweaked dynamically in time with changes in price or discounts, or stock levels - the marker for a particular deal could be removed if stock runs out, and re-added once store employees have been able to re-stock the shelves.
Beyond that, offering users the ability to navigate directly to the top deals from their location is a functionality many retailers could only dream of just a few years ago, and represents yet another way in which the lines between online and in-store shopping habits are becoming blurred as retailers shift toward an omnichannel approach.
Let shoppers navigate through their list
One of the key reasons that some shoppers have been driven towards online shopping over in-store for Black Friday in recent years has been the perception of convenience; shoppers were wary of trying to navigate their way through a busy shop, hunting for the deals they’d heard about via marketing campaigns, and potentially forgetting certain items they intended to buy in the confusion.
However, Store Mode-enabled apps powered by location experts such as Pointr have a solution; the ability to dynamically navigate a retail environment based on the customer’s shopping list.
Picture this: a customer has been seeing your ads for the build up to Black Friday, and has been adding the deals and products they’re interested in to their in-app shopping list in anticipation of the big day. When Black Friday arrives, they travel to the store, and their app not only provides them with an in-store map (perhaps overlaid with other deals they may be interested in), but offers the ability to plot a route through the store for them that will take them to each of their shopping list products in the most efficient manner possible.
This combination of the in-store experience of Black Friday combined with the convenience and efficiency of shopping online is what many consumers have been looking for.
Identifying store layout issues and bottlenecks ahead of time
One of the most common pain points on Black Friday for retailers can be the opening time surge of customers, clogging the entrance of the store and swarming towards areas where they feel the best deals are likely to be. While it’s impossible to mitigate these issues entirely, an analytics-enabled indoor mapping system can go a long way to alleviating problems.
By analyzing footfall and occupancy data in the lead up to Black Friday, retailers can spot inefficiencies in their layout - which parts of a store are often being uncomfortably busy for customers, where potential choke points for traffic moving through the store are located, and which areas of the store tend to be quiet and therefore underutilized. By parsing this information, retailers can make adjustments to their store layout to alleviate many of the problems associated with high Black Friday footfall - for example, moving a popular display or product group away from other high traffic areas and into a traditionally quieter area of the store.
Using live occupancy analytics to direct staff to problem areas and limit customer entry numbers
Indoor maps and indoor positioning systems can also be combined to provide real time analytical insights. Data can tell retailers when their store is close to customer capacity, which areas are becoming overcrowded, and where staff should be positioned to best guide customers around the store.
As we mentioned before, one of the big reasons that customers have shifted toward digital shopping over Black Friday is the day’s reputation for unpleasant overcrowding situations in-store. By leveraging positioning and mapping analytics, retailers can respond in real time to counteract overcrowding and congestion, offering customers a better shopping experience and encouraging them to spend more time - and more money - in-store.