For many years, retailers have all worked toward the same simple objectives:
- Getting as close to their customers as they could
- Understanding where customers are in the shopping process
- Catching customers at the right moment that leads to a purchase.
Prior to the digital age, retailers knew some information about their customers and used that information to interact with them one-on-one. However, these interactions were limited and based on very little information. But technology has changed the game.
The introduction of e-commerce and online shopping brought retailers closer to their customers and allowed them to interact with them in new ways. And today’s smartphones are making the connections and interactions between stores and consumers even more dynamic.
New tools and applications are emerging that address the very same objectives mentioned earlier — finding the right store, finding the consumer right where they are “now,” and identifying their context, as well as where are they coming from and why are they engaging.
The most popular of these tools are location-based services such as location intelligence and location awareness made possible via geocoding and reverse geocoding.
In its simplest form, geocoding is a process that assigns a latitude and longitude to an address or named location. Conversely, reverse geocoding takes an address and converts it into the geographic coordinates for that location. So, for example, GPS information broadcast from a person’s smart phone can be captured and used to determine if they are located at a specific store.
Reverse geocoding can deliver the precise location of a person with pinpoint accuracy. Built in GPS technology and “check-ins” make it easy to locate where a person is and allows companies to turn this information into something much more valuable. By tying location data to other information, such as a person’s dining preferences or the distance from a person’s home, retailers can gain valuable insights that allow them to provide a better customer experience.
There are a number of other location-oriented strategies being used by retailers today. One of these is location-enabled mobile ads, which delivers an ad to a mobile device when the consumer is close to the business. In addition, local search is used when the consumer has demonstrated their intent to make a purchase, and marketing triggers are enacted to offer added value via one or more brands.
These new tools and technologies enable retailers to:
- Be more relevant
- Deliver a more personalized customer experience
- Act more in-stream with the consumer, being there for them when they need them most
The ability to get closer to the customer, give them a better experience and interact with them in a timely and effective manner is increasingly important today – when retailers face stiff competition from online and other brick-and-mortar stores. With shopping options at an all-time high, geocoding is enabling retailers to up their game and beat their competition.