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Mobile Retailing and Location Aware Applications

by Kevin Benedict

October 14, 2010

The location based services market is forecast to reach $21 billion by 2015.  Location aware mobile applications can provide the potential for many businesses to reach mobile users at the right time and in the right place.  What does this mean?  It is 11:45 a.m. and you are thinking about lunch.  If an email or text message arrives to your smartphone with a coupon for your favorite sandwich at the restaurant just a block from your office, there is a very good chance that you will eat there.

What if the temperature drops and snow is predicted?  As you are driving through town you receive a text message.  Of course, you immediately pull safely into a parking lot to read it.  The message is from the local tire shop that you just passed.  They are offering a discount on snow tires.

Loyalty cards, combined with GPS enabled smartphones, location aware marketing applications and LBS (location based services) mean retailers have the potential of knowing your preferences, location, time of day and many other data points.  They can use this information to provide you with customized marketing messages.

LBS applications can be both disconcerting and appealing.  Yes, you give up a level of privacy, but you can also receive information and marketing messages that are relevant as opposed to random.

I am a big fan of both LBS and time sensitive applications.  For example, a restaurant may have extra food, so they notify loyal customers within a one mile radius of a discount on a particular dish for one hour from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.  The restaurant moves the product, and loyal customers receive their favorite dish at a discount.  Everyone wins!

The same for sod (rolled turf) at a Home Depot location.  It is a perishable product, especially on a hot day.  If it needs to move by 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, let your landscape customers know about a special contractor discount from 2:30 to 3:00 p.m.

The ability to recognize what appeals to your best customers, with the added knowledge of location and the ability to communicate in real time with them, enables a retailer to provide a completely new category of marketing programs. 

For more information on mobile retailing you can read the Empower blog or read my Mobile Retailing News Weekly.

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