Black Friday in a World of Beacons and Maps

Black Friday is coming. We all know the drill – buckle up and get ready for the mob. Crazed shoppers, red-eyed from the night long wait will pack the aisles in a yearly frenzy like no other. But the frenzy may be more subdued and, perhaps, even orderly this year depending on what technology stores are using. In-store mapping and smart phone beacons are technologies to look out for this Friday. On a big retail day, the two tools could improve usually hectic foot traffic flow and get customers to the deals they’re hunting for.

Many in-store mapping apps now work a hyperlocal level, to help stores manage foot traffic. In June, BusinessWire announced that mapping company Aisle411 would launch a project with Google’s Project Tango to provide Walgreens customers with an in store mapping app which would combine list shopping, augmented reality and product beacons to enhance their in-store navigational experience. The app lets customers create a list, and then directs them to each product with a GPS-like map, while highlighting products on sale in the aisles as they pass. Look out for other stores this Friday that use mapping software like Meridian, or Point Inside (Target, Lowe’s). Black Friday is a time when customers will need direction more than ever. With apps like these, prepared customers may well be strolling around with a new air of direction.

Smart phone beacon apps alert customers to discounts they may not have been aware of. Typically the difficulty in using smart phone beacons arises with customer interest. John McDermott for Digiday writes…

In order for a retailer to use beacons to reach consumers, the consumers have to download that store’s app, open it when they’re in the store and turn on their Bluetooth signal. That’s a lot of steps just to be able to have a store serve you a push note about a sale on jeans.”

But perhaps Black Friday offers a new venue for beacons. According to Marketing Land, a survey by beacon app company Swirl reported 61% of customers say they “would do more holiday shopping at stores that delivered mobile content and offers while they shop.” Black Friday is about the deals. Beacon apps that guide customers to discount items may be in demand to make hectic shopping smoother.

Black Friday will always be crazy. But as smart phone technology gets better, and stores begin to integrate more mapping software and beacons into their multi channel shopping strategies the big day might get a little more manageable.

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Written by Tom O'Brien

As the director of digital marketing at TimeTrade, Tom is responsible for making sure that business users who would benefit from online appointment scheduling find our website—and stay engaged with it once they do.

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