Retail stores have always sought out new ways to improve the customer experience. From integration with online stores (e.g., Click and Collect services) to self-service checkouts, technology has been at the forefront of this. The latest addition to the list of technologies used to make visiting stores more enjoyable and convenient is indoor mapping. But what exactly is indoor mapping, and how does it improve the customer experience?
What is Indoor Mapping?
Indoor mapping is a technology that provides a visual representation of real indoor spaces. This can vary from the most basic 2D floor plans all the way to fully-3D CGI simulations that enable real-time interaction and utilize augmented reality (or AR).
The uses of this technology are extensive, and have applications in industries as diverse as manufacturing, healthcare, and military intelligence. Retail companies can also benefit from this technology, as consumers can easily navigate retail stores using indoor mapping systems. The ability to visualize the interior space of a store and the position of different objects enables easier navigation and a smoother shopping experience.
Which Aspects of Shopping Does Indoor Mapping Make Easier?
So, what specific drawbacks do customers face while shopping, and how exactly does indoor mapping reduce or eliminate these obstacles? There are plenty of notable aspects of shopping that can be made easier using this technology.
Putting Together a Shopping List
Indoor mapping solutions can be of benefit to customers even well before they set foot in a physical store. Product search functions can enable the planning and creation of shopping lists in advance, making the visit quicker and more convenient.
Some mapping solutions can even provide information on stock levels, so customers can check the availability of a product before leaving the house to pick it up. This can prevent the frustration of writing a shopping list and turning up to the store to discover at the last minute that half the items on your list are out of stock!
Locating Desired Products
Even if you have checked the stock levels of a product using the website before arriving at the store, it can often be tricky to actually find the product in the store when you get there, especially if you aren’t familiar with the layout of the store or if aisles have been arranged.
The positioning and wayfinding features of indoor mapping smartphone apps can enable customers to instantly search and locate the items they need. This can save precious time on the weekly groceries shop, or enable the quick location and purchase of the last of a product left on the shelves.
Planning an Efficient Route
For customers who really want to reduce the time taken to shop, indoor mapping solutions can enable the planning of the most efficient route possible. For larger stores such as supermarkets or department stores, this can be a lifesaver. For disabled customers, the easy location of elevators and ramps can also improve accessibility.
Unlike traditional GPS systems, many indoor mapping systems provide positioning across multiple floors, which can have many benefits. For example, a customer could pick up three items needed on each floor while only visiting each floor once, instead of constantly going back and forth up and down stairs or elevators to search for products.
What Does the Future Hold for Retail Mapping Solutions?
The integration of technology and apps into the retail experience is constantly evolving and increasing. Indoor mapping solutions are already being used by many retailers, and the number of companies making use of them looks set to grow. Not only could this positively affect the profits of retailers who choose to use these systems, but it could transform the shopping experience in general—offering more convenience and accessibility for consumers.