aisle411 and NAVTEQ kicked off ShowStoppers at the CTIA conference and got the LBS juices flowing early at CTIA. ShowStoppers is a "press only" event to introduce some new products but is not limited to location technology.
aisle411 literally stopped me in my tracks as they demonstrated a mobile app for navigating the consumer to the specific aisle within a retailer to find a product. aisle411 competes with Shopkick in many ways but I was particularly interested in how the aisle411 app navigated to the specific store aisle (see graphic at right; click for larger image; see additional graphics for check-ins and offers). The company says they are working with several retailers to get each store's planogram to map the store by product categories. So, the consumer is able to navigate to the area of the aisle where they are likely to find the product. According to a company spokeperson with whom I spoke, this level of navigation gets the consumer sufficiently close the specific product for which they are looking without overwhelming them with too much location detail. Individual "big box retailers" (e.g. Lowes, Walmart) may have as many as 130 product categories and upwards of 50,000 SKUs.
aisle411 is reaching out to the "big box" retails currently, such as Shop 'n Save, (See press release) a major grocery chain, to get their store layouts. Otherwise, they will try to map each store on their own, but does so in an "above board" manor so the retail knows they are capturing data.
The aisle411 mobile app allows check-ins, will alert consumers with information on product promotions, and will crowdsource information where there consumer identifies a product that is miss-mapped by the app. This feedback is shared with the retailer and maps may be corrected if the product is indeed incorrectly located.
Another feature of the app is to create a shopping list and then have the app route you to each product location within the store based on a preferred route.
For non-indoor positioning, aisle411 is providing a geofencing application once the consumer is in the vicinity of the store. Some location-based advertising is associated with this geofence where the consumer is likely to receive promotional information from advertisers.
And so, long ago, when we featured articles on "mapping the store floor" this is what I had envisioned because a map of products by aisles is the level of detail required for supporting the customer. And for the retailer, they would have the opportunity to capture data on store traffic, a feature that aisle411 said is coming in the way of "heat maps" where they will identify well-traveled areas...which may, in turn, lead to how CPG manufacturers compete for shelf space.
Indoor Mall Navigation
The news from NAVTEQ takes this street navigation data provider well beyond its roots...or should I say "routes." NAVTEQ announced "Destination Maps." According to the company's press release, "Destination Maps feature a unique set of interior map attributes (e.g., escalators) with detailed place data to enable users to more efficiently navigate and explore interior spaces. With NAVTEQ Destination Maps, location-based applications can extend beyond streets and sidewalks and into complex interior spaces." When I asked personnel staffing the NAVTEQ booth where they were getting their data the response was a bit vague. They indicated that they are using CAD drawings to model the interior spaces of large malls. So, NAVTEQ is not driving the hallways of malls just yet and simply relying on 3D models. I can envision that more precise positioning will be required; perhaps in the next generation of the product. I might suggest that NAVTEQ get together with aisle411 to look at synergies.
NAVTEQ believes that consumers are ready for indoor navigation and will integrate the application with other NAVTEQ products and data. In the press release, it hints at the possiblity of social networking to locate friends in real-time. This might overlap with other apps already in existence so, again, some venture with an existing social net application is in order.