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Retailers: Combine Location & Mobile Web For A Holiday Advantage


Proximity marketing is hot and getting hotter, with many retailers exploring how to use technologies like in-store beacons and in-store inventory search to make holiday shopping as easy as possible for consumers and hopefully get more of them to buy.

What I haven’t seen much of, however, is integrating proximity marketing with the mobile Web. Why not use location data to send targeted offers or messages on the mobile web, just as many are doing with Bluetooth today?

“You Are Two Minutes From An Arby’s”

Here’s a fantastic example from Arby’s of what I’m talking about:

When you go to Arby’ on your smartphone, it asks you if it can use your site’s location.

arbys mobile website

If you select Allow, it finds your nearest Arby’s and gives you a message that’s targeted to your location:

arbys mobile location marketing

While many retailers’ mobile sites use this locator technology, most of them just give users a simple list with locations. When I did it on another fast food site for example, I was given 84 locations near me in Chicago, the furthest of which is 24.4 miles away (42 minutes by car).

There may be someone out there who would drive 42 minutes for a sandwich, but the great majority of people just want to know where the closest one is and how to get there. The Arby’s site does a great job in helping the user solve that task quickly.

Maybe a little too quickly, in fact. It’s great that Arby’s gets the location information and directions so quickly, but why not also give them incentive (other than their hunger) to make the trip?

This would be a great time to introduce offers as well. It’s great that I’m two minutes from an Arby’s, but I’m two minutes from a lot of things in downtown Chicago.

If this message also told me that I can get a free roast beef classic by signing up for mobile offers (which you can), I would be that much more likely to drop what I was doing and take that two minute trip.

Not Just For Roast Beef, Retailers

Many retailers are looking for an advantage this holiday season, and this could be it.

Yesterday, we were in an otherwise unfamiliar area in Lake Zurich, IL, and were looking for a Pottery Barn Kids at which to buy a child’s lamp. We found a location a short distance away using Google, but when we clicked through to the site, we saw this:

pottery barn kids mobile offer

Free shipping is great, but since Pottery Barn Kids knows I’m on a smartphone, this would be a great opportunity to serve a more targeted message – one that I’m more likely to act on. Why would I care that much about free shipping when I’m 2 minutes from a store? It’s more likely that I’d go to the store and pick it up.

Why not give me the opportunity to search local inventory instead? Or a phone number to call the store to see if they have what I’m looking for, and store hours to make sure I have time to pick it up? Or give me an offer that expires in the next two hours, or even information on local sales that are happening in the store?

Not to pick on Pottery Barn Kids here — that just happened to be the store I had a recent example for. In looking at major retailer sites today, I didn’t see one of them that uses the device location to give more than a list of nearby stores.

If you’re a retailer, don’t make proximity marketing and mobile web-based offers a New Year’s resolution.

According to Google research, 75% of smartphone shoppers plan to use their phones in-store this holiday season, and more than half of consumers start holiday research before Thanksgiving.

Making it easier for smartphone shoppers to find what they’re looking for today, and incentivizing them to buy locally, will help searchers and retailers alike to have a happy holiday season.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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