How Location-Based Marketing Can Help Retailers Through Covid

Traditional methods of in-person transactions, store browsing and entertainment are still not what they used to be. So how does location-based marketing play into a frictionless future?

Location data is fitting retailers for a frictionless future. While we were all optimistic the pandemic would be behind us, as we enter 2022 its episodic impact is still very much present. As a result, traditional methods of in-person transactions, interactions, store browsing, and entertainment, are STILL not what they used to be. While the pandemic completely disrupted the ways in which businesses operate, it exacerbated adoption of new technologies that were either not on retailers’ peripherals or on their five year roadmap. 

Commerce has become more seamless and consumers have come to expect brands and retailers to cater to their preferences. Finally, the customer is at the center of the conversation; it’s no longer about pushing messages and getting dollars in. Retailers are now thinking more  directly about what the customer wants and how they want it.

So how does location-based marketing play into a frictionless future? How can it empower retailers to deliver the goods and services that customers desire? 

Bridging the gap between digital and physical: The pickup revolution

Now more than ever, it’s critical for companies to connect digital orders with in-person fulfillment. Services such as curbside and in-store pickup have skyrocketed and location data plays an integral role in helping provide that on-time experience for consumers. 

What’s more, studies have shown that the brands and retailers that can reduce pickup time windows to under two minutes are four times more likely to gain customer loyalty and repeat customers than orders that take over 10 minutes to fulfill in the parking lot. Location data provides real-time dwell metrics without self-reported or manual check-in. It’s an automated way to provide retailers with metrics that can make or break a customer experience, and ultimately customer loyalty. 

Utilizing location insights to inform business decisions

Routines have changed and consumers are adopting new behaviors and those behaviors are sticking. With different state, city, neighborhood, and even store-level mandates, understanding consumer movement patterns can be extremely valuable to any retailer's marketing strategy. 

Location data can help marketers build predictive models by analyzing time of day, day of week, frequency, and even dwell time of customers. With in-depth analytics and real-world insights, brands can start to analyze core customer behavior shifts and begin to answer questions such as:

  1. Have those that visited my store(s) in the past become more active with curbside / BOPIS services?
  2. Have they opted for delivery instead? 
  3. Have they made additional purchases while picking up their online order?
  4. Are they visiting competitor locations?
  5. Have I gained new customers since launching click-and-collect services?

[See more: The Future State of BOPIS and Curbside Pickup]

Going beyond marketing, consider how helpful location-based analytics are for store operations. From staffing decisions to services offered, physical world insights are invaluable to retailers looking to improve their operations and deliver more personalized customer experiences.

Reinventing the in-store experience

Creating engaging in-store experiences is poised to be the theme of physical retail moving forward. New physical amenities are being augmented by location services that bring the customer experience full-circle. Not only can these services help identify someone who walks into a store, but it helps fuse the brick-and-mortar and digital channels together. Appointment retailing for example is a trend that spun out of the pandemic. Retailers like Best Buy, REI, ULTA, and others have implemented these in-store consultative approaches to make customers feel safe and valued. 

Other digital enhancements, such as the “store-mode” feature on mobile apps like Home Depot, rely on geotargeting to enhance the in-store experience - a capability which, according to a 2021 Digital Trends Report from Adobe, nearly 73% of retail executives regarded as “critical” or “important” to their efforts to connect and deliver the right experience at the right time.

Supporting the omnipresence of omnichannel

Every retailer knows that omnichannel is no longer a nice-to-have strategy, it’s a necessity. Consumers’ growing use of both online and offline channels proves omnichannel shopping’s entrenchment as the future norm. 

Whether it’s a new customer that downloaded a mobile app for click-and-collect purposes or a long-time, repeat customer, understanding their different motivations and communication preferences is key to personalizing their experience for growth and retention. 

While location-triggered notifications sent via a mobile app are a great way to reach consumers at the right time and in the right moment, not everyone will download a brand’s mobile app. SMS is gaining substantial adoption and opt-in from consumers as their preferred methods of communication with brands. In this case, the same location-based triggers can be set up for text messaging for services such as curbside or in-store pickup or any other nearby notifications including safety protocols, appointment reminders, and even abandoned cart alerts. Retailers can also utilize the data to power their email programs and retarget those that visited their store, but may not have made a purchase.

[Hypothetical anecdote: I’m out running errands when I get a location-triggered notification on my phone from Sephora’s app that the perfume I added to my online cart is available for curbside pickup. Sephora is in the shopping center where I’m running my errands so not only is it convenient for me, but it’s a win for both of us. Sephora is making a sale that I may have otherwise forgotten about or worse - sold out by the time I revisited my cart. With a swipe and tap of a button, I complete my order and pick it up when I’m done with my errands. A happy customer indeed.]

Taking a data-driven marketing approach and creating a cohesive strategy across a network of channels and touchpoints will help brands connect with a wider and more engaged audience.

We’re living in the convenience economy

We’ve entered the convenience economy and there is no turning back. Consumer choice is abundant and location technology is creating better efficiencies for more fitting frictionless commerce. Flattening of the innovation curve is far from over as retailers continue to uncover and embrace new solutions to improve their business and every touchpoint of the consumer journey. We’re all in for a ride.

-Liz Weinsten, VP of Marketing for Gimbal

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Liz Weinsten is the VP of Marketing at  Gimbal. She oversees all marketing channels and is responsible for implementing go-to-market strategies for new products, developing external communication strategies including all PR related activities, producing and managing content for website and email programs, and leads point on event sponsorships and partnerships. An agile marketer that thrives in creative environments, she’s always looking to expand beyond the status quo.