For some time now, we at Mindtree have been promoting the use of context-aware offers to individual shoppers in retail stores. For instance, a mother who pauses in the produce section of a supermarket gets an alert on her phone – maybe it’s a promotional discount on shiitake mushrooms; or a recipe guide for making fruit snacks that are fun and appealing to kids; or an offer to have a store staffer collect all the pre-packaged items on her shopping list while she chooses her produce individually.
These kinds of scenarios are fast becoming a reality as stores deploy technology like iBeacon. These “indoor positioning system” technologies can help retailers know not just when a shopper is in a store (or even in a particular aisle within a store), but also help to identify her uniquely, irrespective of which Bluetooth-enabled device is with her at that time (amongst several that she may own). Furthermore, iBeacon will not only allow the store to communicate with her, but also transact with her mobile phone, initiating a digital payment and e-invoice, for example.
But if the good news is that the technology to do this is available and mature, then the bad news is that there is still one more hurdle to get over: the customers themselves. A recent OpinionLab survey found that 77% of U.S. adults (including millennials) do not want to be tracked via their smartphones while in retail stores, and 44% say they’re less likely to shop at a store if it tracks mobile devices.
Winning Your Way Into Their Phones
The numbers are severe enough to frighten away retailers who want to use technology like this, but can’t afford to scare away the customers that come into their stores. But this technology is too much of a game-changer to walk away from, and the survey did allow for the possibility of changing consumers’ minds. When asked what might convince them to participate in a tracking program, two answers left the door open: receiving price discounts (61%) and getting free products (53%).
With that in mind, we recommend the following to win over these consumers:
Of course, winning their hearts and minds enough to have them download your app and be tracked is only half the battle. How to make the most of this kind of technology inside and outside the store is the other half, and something I will address in a follow-up.
Consumers just say no to in-store mobile tracking, Internet Retailer, March 27, 2014