Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Location Based Services and Mobile Retailing Applications

There is a fast growing segment of the mobile applications market that is rapidly being adopted by retailers.  Retailers and consumer packaged goods companies like Best Buy, Disney, Procter and Gamble, Starbucks, The Gap, American Eagle, Sports Authority and Macy's are all involved in various location based services projects. 
They are using LBS (location based services) from companies like:
  • Foursquare
  • Booyah
  • Gowalla
  • Shopkick
Companies like Facebook and Google are also rapidly developing retail oriented location based services applications for mobile devices.

Retailers want primarily one thing from LBS - increased foot traffic.  Many of the retail oriented LBS solutions offer points or rewards to customers for "checking in" at a physical location.  Some may offer coupons, contests and discounts for checking in at a store. 

This is an extension of the "tracking" strategy that online retailers use.  For many years online retailers have been tracking your online preferences, purchases and other buying habits.  This information has been accumulating in their data warehouses.  Now they want to associate what they know about your online habits with your physical presence in a store. 

Think about the headsets that many of the staff wear in the retail stores in the malls.  I can image that soon, when you enter the retail location and "check-in" with an LBS solution, the retail staff will immediately hear (through an audio file in their headset) about your online buying profile and preferences.  You as a shopper will be astonished that the staff seem to know exactly what you want, your size, style and fashion interests.

You can understand how companies like SAP could support their retail customers in the near future with integrated ERPs, CRM, business intelligence and mobile applications to support LBS solutions.

Related articles on mobile retailing:
Kevin Benedict, SAP Mentor, SAP Top Contributor, Mobile and M2M Industry Analyst
Phone +1 208-991-4410
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Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility consultant, mobility analyst, writer and Web 2.0 marketing professional. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.