Personal touch to give retailers competitive edge

Jul 22, 2014

Personalised instant alerts triggered by virtual boundaries and sent directly to consumers’ smartphones are the new weapon being investigated by retailers to gain a competitive edge.

Personalised instant alerts triggered by virtual boundaries and sent directly to consumers’ smartphones are the new weapon being investigated by retailers to gain a competitive edge.

The latest solution from Geographic Information System (GIS) technology giant Esri Singapore will enable retailers to place an invisible perimeter – known as a geo-fence - around a storefront, triggering push notifications to customers’ smartphones when they cross the boundary.

Personalised special offers - promotions, time-sensitive discounts or loyalty bonuses – will be delivered directly to the customer to attract them into the sender’s store.

Esri Singapore Chief Executive Officer Thomas Pramotedham said the geo-triggered notifications would allow retailers to start a tailored conversation with consumers at crucial moments during their shopping experience.

“Retailers place a high price on personally engaging customers as they walk through a shopping centre or district,” said Mr Pramotedham.

“Unlike SMS or email campaigns, the technology doesn’t bombard shoppers with random promotional material at an inappropriate time or place.

“Instead – by taking advantage of smartphones’ GPS features – GIS technology can provide retailers with precise details of customers’ movements in and around their business.

“This insight can be used to deliver targeted messages as part of a strategy to personalise customer service or as a value-add for a complementary business,” added Mr Pramotedham.

“For example, a shoe retailer could reach out to customers leaving a clothing store with a notification that reminds them to purchase footwear to match the new clothes they’ve just bought.

“Conversely, a retailer could establish a geo-fence in the vicinity of a competitor’s store which would trigger a time-sensitive special offer to tempt customers back.

“The technology will enable businesses to provide a greatly improved retail experience to shoppers while taking ground back from competitors.”

Mr Pramotedham’s comments follow a recent report by Euromonitor which revealed more international retailers are expected to open new stores in Singapore’s suburbs over the next five years, as new residential developments occur.

The report also noted a growing number of retailers are expected to adopt today’s cutting-edge technologies to drive productivity, increase sales, create greater brand awareness and enhance customer experience in their stores.

For example, consumers can expect to see more stores using augmented reality,-  which allows shoppers to bring the store’s products and services to life through virtual catalogues- to create an innovative shopping experience.

Mr Pramotedham further said introducing geo-trigger technology early would give retailers time to consolidate customer loyalty ahead of big sales events such as the Great Singapore Sale.

“Early adoption of the solution will give established local businesses an edge over incoming retail juggernauts by enabling them to provide superior, personalised customer service,” Mr Pramotedham said.

“In fact, a major convenience store in the US has already seen a 10 per cent rise in sales nationwide by using this technology.”

Mr Pramotedham said - as with many of the standing loyalty schemes - participation for geo-trigger update would be voluntary, with consumers needing to ‘opt-in’ before their personal data and location are shared.

“It is an equal exchange, the customer is prepared to provide some personal information, for example, their location and shopping habits, in return for special offers or higher quality service from the retailers,” Mr Pramotedham said.