Real Time Location for Retailers

Jackie Micucci
Thursday, Oct 06, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Retailers know that in order to survive they need to adapt, which is why many have embraced mobile as a way to create new experiences for consumers and keep them engaged both in and out of their store locations. As we discussed earlier in the week, retailers also have a history of working with barcodes, which is why 2D barcodes like Microsoft Tag should be a natural transition for the industry. Add to that real time location and as a retailer, you have a trio of powerful tools at your disposal.

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RTL lets a customer’s location inform the mobile experience and allows marketers to create an experience that ties into their unique location. Real time location makes your message more relevant, plus you can make it part of a conversation. One way to think of it is being able to use one Tag like a series of breadcrumbs, each leading closer to your goal, whether it’s attracting visitors to an in-store event, selling shoes or promoting a sale.

For example, the users scan a Tag on a sign at a retailer’s location in Portland so they can be entered to win tickets to a Portland Timbers match, but then users in Seattle can scan the Tag on that same sign and be entered to win tickets for a Seattle Sounders match. The Tags don’t need to be different because real time location makes them different.

Other ways RTL can work for retailers:

  • Actionable Advertising — Run a coupon in a local paper for 15 percent off outerwear and include a Tag that directs people to your nearest location, regardless of where the Tag is scanned.

  • Loyalty Programs — Your restaurant chain has a loyalty program that encourages repeat visits by offering special discounts after five meals. Your customers track the meals they’ve enjoyed on your loyalty card, which also includes a Tag guiding them to your closest location.

  • Gamification — You own a running shoe store. Put a Tag on your shopping bags and let customer’s log how many miles they run each week. Then award special prizes to the customers who logged the most miles or participated in the most area runs.

Implementing Real Time Location

I went into detail in a prior post about how to implement Tag’s RTL capabilities. But by way of review: It begins with putting RTL information into a URL Tag. (A URL Tag opens a web page on your customer’s smartphone and can be anything from a custom mobile website to a video to a contest entry form.) You can create or update the URL Tag with location awareness by adding parameters for longitude, latitude, postal code (including international codes) or a combination of the three.

RTL works with any URL. So, for example, to return a postal code, you would use the URL parameter: {!PostalCode}. (This acts as a placeholder until the user scans the Tag.) The URL registered in the Tag Campaign Manager would read: www.foo.com/?zipcode={!PostCode} and the URL returned to the mobile user would read: www.foo.com/?zipcode=55126.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind

Make sure you have a website that works with real time location. Tag does not create the content for you, but it will tell you where it is. Also, users need to have a smartphone equipped with GPS otherwise RTL won’t work for them.

Real time location is not omnipotent. It only works in a half a mile radius of the scan. It will tell you where the user is in that zip code, but no more. Plus, keep in mind that users are given the option whether or not they want to share their location information the first time they use their mobile device and can change that setting at any time on their smartphone.

Implemented correctly, real time location can really help increase engagement with your customers.

What other ways can real time location be used to help retailers? Let us know with your comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.


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