June 27, 2012

Going mobile – what's next?

When you think of mobile technology in retail environments, the first thing that springs to mind is the mall app. Up to now, however, these have been relatively basic showing only a list of retailers, offers and events. Yet with smartphone usage on the rise , consumers will become increasingly demanding and expect new and valuable services to complement their retail experience.

Augmented reality is a current technology employed by big brands, particularly on their packaging and print marketing collateral. However, companies are gradually beginning to see the opportunities of using it in the environment in order to raise brand awareness and engagement. With the mall app open, visitors will be able to hold their smartphone up to a store façade and see any marketing messages the retailer wishes to convey on screen; offers, competitions, events or links to websites.

This capability has evolved from QR codes, where the app reads a square barcode and links to a distinct webpage or application. However, with augmented reality, there is no need for the barcode – and the destination options are much more varied and advanced. As well as the above, it has the capability to show animations and interactive games.

Location based technology currently offers a wide potential scope of services to mall visitors. Using the centre WiFi, information can be delivered straight to devices based on where they are in the mall. Clearly, this type of technology will have numerous benefits in terms of wayfinding; as users will be able to pinpoint their exact location using maps already loaded on the app. Similarly, if WiFi points were installed in car parks, users could mark where they parked in order to find their way back later in the day.

Promotions are a key part of this technology. Centre management or retailers have the ability to send personalised push messages to visitors as they walk past a store to inform them of any offers currently available. Alternatively, should a retailer be having a slow day, they would be able to send notifications to all those in the mall highlighting a limited-time only promotion in order to stimulate sales.

Of course, should tracking software be linked to this location based technology, centre management will also be able to collate detailed data reports on footfall, retailer involvement and performance and opportunities for further commercialisation around the mall.