Retail Loco @ SXSW: Retailers Talk Location Solutions

By Anne Marie Stephen

Brands, retailers and technologists convened at Retail Loco at South by Southwest Interactive, Sunday, March 15, 2015 hosted by Location Based Marketing Association. The event focused on how companies are leveraging location solutions and data for better business. The LBMA is a global not-for-profit association with over 1,000 member companies including media, retail, brands, agencies and technology companies.

The day was filled with informative content throughout the day. Founder and president of the LBMA, Asif Khan, shared that 80% of mobile devices in North America use GPS and location should be thought of as the “new cookie” in understanding consumer behavior through location.  He also informed the audience that 85% of all data generated on planet has a geo-location element.

Companies like Target and Redbox spoke about how location is being used in their respective businesses. Mike DiMiele, senior manager web and mobile analytics, Redbox, noted that 60% of Redbox traffic is coming from a mobile device. Alan Wizemann, VP of product, Target, shared how the retailer has successfully leveraged proximity detection via the Target app for customer curbside fulfillment.

While Target is not divulging the results of the California based test, Wizemann did share that the company was “remarkably surprised” by the positive results. He also suggested that retailers must think about solving the problem before integrating technology stating the “benefit has to be there” for both consumers and retailers.
 
In other highlights:

• Ryan Craver, L’Amour, digital strategy emerging brands, formerly senior VP strategy with Hudson’s Bay Company who led the HBC beacon deployment, observed that retail is getting to the point that there is no longer an “offline world.” Consumers and retailers and living in a fluid shopping environment that blends channel boundaries.  

• Location data, such as the behavioral data collected from mapping technologies of consumer travel to and from destinations helps brands and retailers gain context about their customer according to Elise Neel, head of sales for Mapquest.  

• Simon Venture group managing director, Sky Fernandes, indicated one third of the U.S. population works or walks through a Simon Property mall daily. With those numbers, indoor location solutions are good tools to measure shopper behavior. He also suggested that tying these analytics platforms to marketing platforms is more impactful to the experience and bottom line.  

• Tamara Weinman, managing director of T3, San Francisco said in their work with UPS they were able to save seven dollars per delivery simply by re-routing packages to the real-time customer location rather than delivery address improving both the customer experience and ROI through use of location.  

Retail Loco speakers also communicated best practices in deploying these new technologies in their businesses. Jeff Donaldson, senior VP of the Gamestop Technology Institute, indicated that it is critical to operate with high integrity and transparency with shoppers. And InMarket CEO, Todd DiPaolo advised “technology should not make consumers jump through hoops.”

Creative engagement with location
The event also highlighted creative, successful uses for engagement with location. Blue Bite CEO, Mikhail Damiani, shared how the company have partnered with Adidas embedding NFC chips in shoes to engage with digital signage.

 Westfield Malls and Sephora were cited by Manolo Almagro, managing director digital and retail technologies, TPN Retail, as two companies “doing it better.” Westfield has innovation labs in a live mall environment where they have implemented shoppable windows that are giant touch-screens. In this environment, it was discovered that shoppers were reluctant to purchase directly from the window because their credit card number was visible to all passersby. Changes were made and final transaction point moved to the shopper’s mobile device to facilitate purchasing.  

Emily Shannon, director of digital from the Mall of America, said in just two years, they have initiated and implemented a digital program to connect and shape the guest experience because mobile is an important tool in the shopping visit.

Throughout the day companies shared how mobility has shifted how they are thinking about serving customers. Burberry and Whole Foods bring payment mobility utilizing Square in-store to serve customers where they are experiencing the brands, explained Gillian Wee, operations lead at Square.

As the traditional methods of payment via hardware and POS systems at the front of stores shift to mobile, impulse buys are being challenged.  The Hershey Company is looking to find new ways to deliver the “impulse chocolate purchase” according to Sara Abernathy, Front End Evolution.

Location solutions continue to evolve and be incorporated into the retail environment. Brands, retailers and technology solutions are working together to discover best practices for leveraging location for their businesses. The LBMA will be hosting another Retail Loco event in Chicago October 22-23, 2015.


Anne Marie Stephen is CEO and founder, Kwolia. She can be reached at annemarie@kwolia.com. Twiiter: @AnneMarie_ams
 

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