Daily Dose of iQ: Indoor Positioning Apps - Useful or Spammy?

Jun 19, 2013 — Joan Gurney

Bill Siwicki of Internet Retailer wrote Monday (June 17) about new "indoor positioning" technology that uses tiny sensors to identify a shopper's location inside the store in order to provide personalized service and encourage purchase decisions (i.e. push deals and add-on items).

While it's safe to assume the customer would have to opt-in and download the app, there is an inherent risk of this technology being spammy, creepy and annoying.

Giving customers control over these types of location-based notifications is vital.

Nonetheless, I would personally welcome seeing these notifications when I’ve forgotten to buy laundry detergent for the third time in a week and suddenly my phone prompts me with a “Hey, by the way, detergent sale one aisle over.” However, I’d start getting frustrated if the detergent was already in my basket when I received that notification.

I believe there is great value in moderating the notifications being sent. Why not allow users to create custom lists or select product categories they'd like to be notified of? It gives them the content they need without being spammed about products they are not interested in.

Nobody wants to be followed around a store being told, "Buy this! Buy this!"

It would be incredibly annoying to be continuously prompted about every single sale item in the store as you wander up and down the aisles. It would be like having a clingy sales person hiding around every corner shouting, “Buy this! Buy this!” Not to mention there is certainly a creep factor about knowing you’re essentially being “watched” no matter where you are in a store.

In-store touchscreens are less invasive than push notifications to a customer's phone.

Displaying such notifications on mounted touchscreens -- as opposed to pushing notifications to my phone -- would definitely feel less invasive. I may only need to go to one section of a store, so if I could walk up to a screen and browse all the deals and suggestions for that area I wouldn’t feel as though I was being spammed or overwhelmed by all the other content available to me.

Take-home message: At the end of the day, everyone should have the choice of whether or not they want to receive certain types of information. Retail apps can be useful for a variety of reasons including looking up products, searching for store locations and finding great deals. But if an app suddenly starts throwing information at me that I'm not interested in, I would delete the app in an instant. Offering the ability to opt-out of indoor positioning notifications is crucial for retail apps.

Topics: Privacy, Retail Operations, Mobile Industry, Customer Experience, Retail Marketing

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