"Google's Indoor Maps" have opened a whole new opportunity to retailers whereby they can enable their in-store customers to get quick and easy access to the products that they're looking for. In brief, "Google's Indoor Maps" can allow in-store customers to find their way within this indoor location, similar to how they would have used a GPS to navigate while driving on road.
What if we integrate these Google Indoor Maps with a Retailer's consumer mobile application (app) and tag the retail store's indoor aisles by "Product Categories" for a large format store? What if we take this tagging to a more granular level, going down to category of products available, and then again by brands? This seems to be just the beginning of a thought process whereby retailers can allow their patrons to directly reach out for the product that they are looking for; rather than wandering through store departments or searching for a store associate. This would save the average shopper some time and a lot of frustration giving her more time to probably shop better, and who may be shop more!
One of the best supporting features on Google floor maps is the ability to guide the user by individual floor's plans, whereby a large multi-level retail stores can also be covered easily and therefore we feel that some of the immediate exploits can be in the large scale Store or say Super Centre.
Let us try to understand how one such Retailer's app may make the life much simpler and the shopping experience much better for the customer. Assume a scenario where our loyal Customer "Louise" is entering such a Large Super Centre for her weekly purchases. Her shopping list typically runs across several store departments like fresh produce, dry grocery, apparel, cleaning-supplies, bath-ware, electronics and sports-goods. Soon after she has parked at the store, Louise logs-in to the Retailer's native Mobile app on her smart phone. The Retailer's app, upon invocation, detects her geographical location and the store that she is visiting today via Location Based Services (LBS) wherein this specific store's latest tagged maps can be pulled and displayed on Louise's phone's screen.
To make the whole shopping trip faster, Louise has keyed in the shopping-list beforehand into the app and a route map is prepared for her upon her check-in into the store via this app. This route map is based on the latest positioning of shelves/racks in the store. Such a guided walk cuts down the Louise's walk through the aisles a short, easy and a comfortable one.
Louise was looking for a shirt for her son, but the size 'small' is not present on the shelf today... is the store carrying it currently? No problem... the check would be a quick one by Louise quickly getting to know this via her mobile app. Moreover, if it is not available in store right now, the app prompts her with an easy and quick site to store order which she can pick up during her next shopping trip.
Another use for this app+Google's Indoor maps eco-system can be to integrate with the floor maps and publish current vacancies/next available time slots/expected wait times in Large Store's sub stores like ophthalmologist shops, saloons etc.
This Large Super Centre's in-house sub-stores can publish a status of a vacant customer spots/seat available or unavailability of the same on the app's floor map. A quick view of the available slots will give Louise an idea whether she needs to do the shopping first or opt for a quick visit to the hair salon first.
While these are just some of the initial thoughts, when pursued actively this specific technology can be utilized in umpteen ways to boost the store sales and above all to guarantee customer satisfaction. Some more thoughts can be to allow customer's purchase/return history and loyalty points to be utilized to highlight offers/deals when customer is approaching a specific aisle or when she has been looking for a specific product for some time. Allowing customers to "check in" into stores and also "check-in" their shopping lists for a quick availability check or even ready-to-go counter delivery is another possibility already being explored by many retailers. Sky would be the limit when one starts documenting the concept of such a solution/product ... better, if done from a customer's point of view.