The technology you need to power an in-app Store Mode for retail

In today’s fiercely competitive retail environment, differentiating yourself from the competition and fostering brand loyalty is critical. Taking full advantage of technology such as Store Mode means you can provide a seamless, and intuitive omnichannel shopping experience to customers on their cell phone, meeting and exceeding their expectations.

Store Mode is much more than just another in-store Blue Dot enabler, and in this article we’ll explore in detail what technical components are required to bring your Store Mode plans to fruition.

If you’d like to find out more in person, we’d love to meet up with you at you at NRF 2023: the Retail’s Big Show

In this article we’ll cover:

  • What is Store Mode - a brief introduction
  • Why you need Store Mode
  • The technical components that make up Store Mode
  • The technical components needed for Store Mode in more detail
  • What to look out for when choosing your Store Mode tech
  • Data privacy
  • Find out more

What is Store Mode - a brief introduction

Store Mode provides in-store shoppers with an independent mode inside a retail app that leverages their phones and location technology to provide highly relevant product information and in-store services based on real-time location and the shopper’s profile.

Features include:

  • Shopping lists
  • Barcode scanners
  • Special offers
  • Digital coupons
  • Dynamic store maps
  • Displaying exact product locations
  • Turn-by-turn directions to products the customer is looking for
  • Upsells and cross sells

The benefits of Store Mode are a two-way street; retailers can also capture in-store analytics to understand how shoppers interact with the store layout to inform merchandising decisions and loyalty programs.

Why you need Store Mode

There are several reasons why retailers are deploying Store Mode, including:

  • Ability to provide product information - unlike online shoppers, in-store shoppers can’t view the rich information about products, such as photos, descriptions, and reviews. By giving in-store shoppers access to more information related to their potential purchase, retailers are far more likely to make a sale - 20% of purchase failures are linked to a lack of available information.
  • A study by the CFI group shows that shoppers who use apps featuring Store Mode will show up to five times the number of interactions compared to users of apps without in-store shopping features.
  • An enhanced in-store shopping experience that can include dynamic store maps, the ability to display exact product locations and the most efficient routes through the store to fulfil a shopping list. Walmart, Target, Home Depot, and many other retailers have been adding these features to their shopping apps over the past few years.

A win-win for shoppers and retailers

Mobile apps that are Store Mode enabled are a win-win for both shoppers and retailers:

  • Shoppers are already using their mobile phones while browsing in-store and want to see items and prices that are relevant to their current location. Store Mode makes this experience convenient and rewarding.
  • Retailers benefit too as it allows them to attract shoppers to stores and enables personalized upselling.

Interested in learning more about the precise benefits of Store Mode and the impact it can have on your retail business? Download our complete guide to Store Mode here. If you’d like to find out more how implementing an in-app Store Mode could benefit your business’s bottom line, head over to our retail ROI calculator.

The technical components that make up Store Mode

The following table summarizes the technical components required for a variety of use cases. Using the table as a guide, you can decide on appropriate use cases for your own consumer app and co-relate the technical components needed to deliver the use case.

   

Use Cases

   

Activate Store Mode

Lookup products inside the store

Provide an in-store map

Find products on a map

Navigate to products in the store

Let customers ask for help from where they are

Send contextual, personalized offers in store

Gather shopper location intelligence

Components needed

Mobile app

Digital Store Maps

   

Digital Product Catalog with Location Data

     

     

Outdoor Geofencing

Indoor Location System with geofencing

       

Store Associate app

     

 

 

Let’s now explore each of the technical components required in more detail.

The technical components needed for Store Mode in more detail

Store mobile apps

Today, most retailers’ mobile apps are built for eCommerce, that is for online shopping, shopping lists, customer loyalty programs, promotions, and vouchers.

When Store Mode is enabled, the mobile app becomes a pocket store guide or personalized shopping assistant that is:

  1. Location-aware (the app is aware that the users have entered the store/parking lot).
  2. Able to deliver functionality based on users’ locations, for example displaying a welcome banner message with a store map, filtering product search results to “Available In Store”, showing prices and stock availability matched up to the store’s in-stock merchandise. 

Digital store maps

A digital store map is an essential component of Store Mode and a requirement of your mapping solution for a successful implementation. Digital maps are:

  1. Easy to scale
  2. Up to date at all times
  3. Flexible to adjust to various campaigns
  4. Interactive and user-friendly (smart search for products on a digital map)

Manual mapping is time-consuming but Pointr offers MapScale®, an AI mapping solution to help automate the mapping process. With MapScale® you can quickly create interactive digital maps that are accurate, user-friendly, and easy to keep up to date via the Pointr Cloud map content management system.

Digital product catalogue with location data

A product locator helps customers find their product with turn-by-turn wayfinding.

A typical use case would be to look up an SKU (Stock-Keeping Unit) and have a catalog provide the location data (department, aisle, bin) of that SKU in-store. The location data should comply with a standardized format which is critical to enable in-store product location and navigation.

For example, when you look up a product item from the catalog, it retrieves the product’s department, aisle, and rack for the product item and calls out that same location on the digital map.

Indoor location system with outdoor/indoor geofencing

A typical outdoor geofencing use case would be to mark outdoor areas to detect if a user enters the parking lot by leveraging a GPS signal with in-app location permission granted by the user.

For location use cases indoors where GPS signals can’t reach, we can utilize various on-site hardware including WiFi and smart lighting, however we recommended Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) hardware for the following reasons

  1. Low cost
  2. Better accuracy
  3. Network security
  4. An extensive ecosystem available in the form of standalone beacons, WiFi apps, and smart lighting, plus it’s available from many sensors and cameras.

For software components, our Mobile SDK (Software Development Kit) is embedded in the store app and calculates the user’s real-time location in-store, enabling use cases such as:

  1. Guide customers to the products in their shopping cart with dynamic wayfinding.
  2. Indoor geofencing, for example displaying an in-app notification such as “Welcome to the [Location] Store” and a link to view the store map. If there are specific offers active for the store, they should also be displayed.

Store associate app

A mobile app available to store associates to help them assist customers and manage store operations.

What to look out for when choosing your Store Mode tech

Your mapping solution:

Retail floor layouts constantly change, so it’s important to choose a mapping solution that’s scalable, easy to use, flexible, and always up to date. Pointr’s AI mapping solution MapScale® meets all of these criteria.

Your indoor location system:

We recommend using the same provider for your indoor location as for your digital map. This is a critical integration point for a seamless customer experience, and poor integration often leads to a poor customer experience. 

Your indoor location system should be able to feed location data into your Customer Data Profile System for easier integration and more flexibility when you need it to work with 3rd party platforms that require these data sources.

A more advanced use case

If you’re looking for a more advanced way to improve your CX (Customer Experience), consider adding a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool or Customer Data Profile System and Omnichannel Marketing Orchestration System to your existing systems. 

With an integral SDK (Software Development Kit), you could capture location data such as in-store routes and the behavior of each customer who shares their location data.

Use case for CRM - understand your customer

Typical metrics might include:

  • Which departments do your customers visit?
  • How much time are they spending in each department? 
  • How much time do they spend checking out?  
  • How often are they returning to the store? 

Use case for omnichannel outreach

  • Send users campaign messages/in-stock info based on their wishlist preferences.
  • Allow them to view offers in a specific department when entering certain areas.
  • See clipped vouchers on a digital map.

Data privacy

Our platform doesn’t store users’ data, instead the SDK passes on the users’ location data, which is available in real-time, to the app. The app will needs to save that data to a user’s profile. You’re then able to retrieve the data and ingest it into a marketing orchestration platform for subsequent personalized outreaches to the customer, both online and in-store.

Interested in Store Mode? Here’s where you can find out more…

You can download our free Store Mode Guide (.pdf) directly from this link:

Ultimate Store Mode Guide


If you can make it to NRF 2023, in New York City in January, why not join us for a live demo of Store Mode. We’d love to see you there.