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woman on urban street with shopping bagsWhen geo-specific applications and marketing first hit the scene, there was an outcry about privacy concerns. If a phone could track your location, within a few feet even, what were the implications? These concerns still exist. That being said, as mobile device consumers have become more app-savvy, they have come to understand the concept of “opting in” and if those benefits of doing so are worth providing a little extra personal information.

Location-based apps and services were already pretty impressive – but get ready for them to completely blow your mind. Companies like Aisle 411 and Meridian are developing the “in aisle” technology that would in essence guide a consumer through a physical shopping experience, all the while suggesting products and pointing out sales. This indoor mapping also has other helpful features like giving consumers directions.

Traditional brick-and-mortar stores have struggled to keep up with technology digital retail giants like Amazon provide that basically allows customers to comparison shop for items on a shelf – then hit the “buy” button on their smartphone to purchase it elsewhere. With better use of mobile technology inside stores, these businesses stand at least a fighting chance of keeping customers engaged in their shopping experience without leaving the in-aisle service for another purchasing app. This new technology has also the capability to transform thesearch marketing tactics that inform marketing decisions now.

The perk for consumers is that they have to work less to get the best savings and may even be introduced to some new products through suggestions that become favorites. It makes shopping easier and more intuitive – reminding consumers of the items they really need that they never knew existed.

The downside is the privacy issue, again. By opting in to these real-time offers, consumers are also giving away valuable market information on themselves and their shopping habits. This information will then (feasibly) be used to further develop marketer strategies and provide feedback to advertisers. If you are a consumer this may or may not bother you.

So how can physical-location businesses make consumers comfortable with this coming technology – and what does it mean for digital storefronts? To start, brick-and-mortar businesses should not offer the technology until it shows great rewards for consumers. Requesting location information and the permission to blast a consumer with sales messages is a big ask, so companies need to really be ready before rolling out the technology. These businesses should also be transparent about how the data that is collected will be used.

Digital storefronts, that so far have had the advantage in mobile experiences, will have to work just a little bit harder to keep customers engaged. This might mean more aggressive campaigns and notifications, and rewards programs and other incentives for consumers. Digital businesses should start thinking about these strategies now, though, because the indoor mapping technology already exists – and it is just a matter of time before it sees mass adoption.

Image via Flickr on Creative Commons

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Megan Totka

About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

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