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The retail business is a people business. As such, the industry must recognize the importance of getting to know their customers as people and not just as transactions or points of sale. Doing so allows retailers to better serve their customers and create an ongoing, personal experience that they can expect from that brand going forward. This may seem like an obvious or even unnecessary step, but with data privacy concerns on the rise and new legislation like GDPR coming into effect, digitally geo-locating your customers is one way for businesses to stay compliant while also building trust among current and potential customers. Read on to learn why it’s important to geo-locate-customers and how you can get started today.
What Is Geo-location?
Geo-location means finding the location of a device or person. In the retail context, geo-location refers to the act of figuring out where a device is located. This could be a smartphone, desktop computer, or even a connected home device like a smart thermostat. Retailers can use a variety of data sources to find out where a device is. The most common is IP addresses. But retailers can also rely on data from Wi-Fi networks, Bluetooth beacons, mobile device sensors, and more.
Why It’s Important to Geo-locate Customers
Geo-location customers allows retailers to better understand the needs and interests of their customers. This information is essential to providing a superior customer experience. For example, if a retailer knows a customer lives near a beach and likes to surf, they can use this information to suggest products that would best fit this lifestyle. Or if a customer has children, a retailer may recommend items that are more family-friendly. Knowing where customers are also allows retailers to provide more relevant and timely information. For example, a retailer could share information about nearby events that intersect with their customers’ interests. Or a retailer could notify customers about shipping updates in their area. And since customers expect businesses to know where they are, geo-location can help retailers stand out from their competition. With so many brands vying for customers’ attention and time, standing out can be a challenge. Geo-location can help retailers meet customers where they are and deliver relevant information when they want or need it.
How to Geo-locate Customers
There are a few ways retailers can geo-locate customers. The first and most common method is to use IP addresses. IP Addresses - IP addresses are the unique numbers computers use to communicate with each other over the internet. It’s how your computer knows how to get to websites, and it’s also how websites know where you are. Retailers can use this information to determine a device’s general location. It’s not precise, but it gives retailers enough information to start targeting customers with relevant messages. IP addresses are the standard way of geo-locating customers, but the method isn’t foolproof. Cybercriminals can use proxies or VPNs to make it appear as though they are somewhere they aren’t. That’s why many retailers use a combination of data sources.
3 Ways Geo-location Improves Customer Experience
1. Customers expect brands to know where they are. - Retailing, like most industries, has become increasingly digital. Consumers now expect to be able to shop online and have access to product information when and where they need it. And while it may seem as though customers would prefer to shop from home, research shows that customers actually want a blended experience. 2. Geo-location increases the likelihood of in-store sales. - Customers who engage with a retailer’s app or website are more likely to head to the store to make a purchase. And retailers who geo-locate their customers and offer in-app coupons are more likely to drive customers to their stores. 3. Geo-location encourages shoppers to spend more. - Customers who geo-locate to a store with their mobile devices are twice as likely to spend money compared to those who don’t.
2 Ways Geo-location Helps Build Brand Trust
1. Customers feel more connected to brands that geo-locate. - Customers who know where a brand is located often feel more connected to that brand. This can translate into higher engagement, loyalty, and sales. 2. Geo-location helps brands appear more trustworthy. - A recent survey found that customers who see a brand’s physical address are more likely to trust that brand.
1 Way Geo-location Ensures Businesses Are GDPR Compliant
As retailers geo-locate their customers and use that information to provide a better experience, they collect data about those customers. That can be great for the customer, but GDPR requires businesses to be transparent about how they collect and use data. Retailers can let customers know they are collecting data, but they can’t tell customers how that data is being used. However, geo-location can be used in a way that’s transparent to customers but still GDPR compliant. Retailers can let customers know they are geo-locating them by displaying a notice when a customer first uses the app. This lets customers know they are being geo-located, but it doesn’t tell them how that data is being used. GDPR requires businesses to be transparent about how they collect and use data.
Retailers can use geo-location to know where customers are and what they like, but it’s also a great way to let customers know how they’re using that data and what it’s being used for. That transparency will help ensure brands stay GDPR compliant and build trust among customers. Geo-location may seem like a small step, but it’s an important one for retailers. It’s a powerful way to engage with customers and build lasting relationships by delivering a personalized experience.