The advancing technology to make navigation more personal and relevant is becoming manifest in the applications being developed for indoor location and positioning. Editor in Chief Joe Francica spoke with aisle411’s Kris Kolodziej about how Walgreens is using the company’s app to improve customers’ indoor shopping experiences by helping them find products faster.
The advancing technology to make navigation more personal and relevant is becoming manifest in the applications being developed for indoor location and positioning. Routing applications are no longer limited to streets. It’s now possible to route customers within malls and other shopping centers, and even within individual stores. aisle411, a Palo Alto-based company, is one of the leaders in helping consumers search for products and routing them to the exact aisle to eliminate the time-consuming guesswork.
According to a recent press release, "aisle411's positioning solution leverages a building's existing Wi-Fi infrastructure and sensor information from mobile devices, such as data provided by the gyroscope, pedometer and compass, to deliver precise location information indoors without the need for any specialized hardware or additional infrastructure. aisle411's indoor searchable maps platform is live in over 10,000 retail locations and multiple major retailers and partners have embedded the aisle411 platform within their own mobile applications."
Kris Kolodziej, aisle411's vice president of location services, spoke with Directions Magazine just after he returned from the Consumer Electronics Show, where the company debuted its geofencing API (see video below). aisle411 provides a mobile app for both iOS and Android and can support retailers with a branded solution, as well. aisle411 is currently used by Walgreens, a popular pharmacy and convenience store, as the store's mobile app, as well by as HyVee, a grocery chain in the Midwest.
Here's how the app works for Walgreens customers, which according to Comscore comprise three million active users. As customers approach the store they may receive a welcome message, and from there they can begin a search for a specific product. The app will do a lookup on a UPC and SKU database that is integrated with the aisle411 app. When aisle411 works with the retailer it will often clean up the product database in order to make it mappable. aisle411 obtains the store's available floor plans, which may vary depending on the number of typical building footprint options the retailer uses when opening a new store. After the search is completed, users are directed to the aisle where the product is located, but not to the individual shelf at this time.
But aisle411 does not stop at routing. When you search for "cookies," for example, aisle411 may look for more context-sensitive information about the intent by referring to the client's shopping list, a function included with the app. Does the customer want to "bake cookies" or "buy cookies"? Once that is determined, the routing can begin and the user is taken to the correct location within the store. Walgreens will be tying the app to its loyalty program in the future to make the experience more relevant to the user. As it is, customers approaching the pharmacy or the cooler areas within the store may receive pop-up messages for offers on certain products.
In the future, aisle411 may be launching its app with a price checking application using a barcode scanner. In this way, an aisle411 app user may be shown a map of an area store with relevant offers. aisle411 realizes that "showrooming" is now a common trend whereby users scan a product in one store in order to do a lookup of prices at nearby stores.
According to Nathan Pettyjohn , CEO of aisle411, “If a shopper enters a particular area of the store, a retailer might remind them with an alert message on their phone that they can find a bigger selection of related items via the retailer's mobile website, or suggest a special offer located in a different aisle. This truly extends the shopper experience into an endless aisle where the in-store and online purchasing experience is blurred.”
Kolodziej said that aisle411 is signing on with one of the top home improvement stores, and will be adding a top grocer shortly. So look for more news from this company in the future.
MAGIC is a 25-year-old geospatial professional organization representing nine states with the mission to support GIS professionals and present educational opportunities. Susan Norton serves on the MidAmerica GIS Consortium (MAGIC) executive board as secretary and provides an update on...