Mobile location has long been viewed as a key capability for reaching shopping consumers at more relevant places and times.
Much of that activity has centered on targeting a mobile shopper in relation to a physical store, kind of geofencing 101.
I’ve noticed that advancements in location technology are empowering manufacturers to more directly connect customers to products, essentially bypassing the influence of the retailer.
One example is by the mobile coupon companies that allow shoppers to scan their grocery receipts after leaving the store and receive cash rebates directly from manufacturers.
One of these companies (SnapSaves) was acquired by Groupon, another (Endorse) was bought by Dropbox and a third (Checkout 51) I wrote about here last week (Mobile Coupon Redemption AFTER the Shopping Trip).
The blending of better technology with more information is allowing more precise matching of person to product.
A few weeks back, I noticed another indicator of this trend when California-based Retailigence teamed up with digital advertising companies to match real-time ads to shoppers based on the location of product inventory.
I’ve been following Retailigence for some time, since it tracks inventory information in more than 100,000 brick and mortar stores. This always struck me as a major component to complete the mobile path to purchase, since a mobile shopper led to a store to find the desired product out of stock can create a frustrating experience, at the very least.
One company, Gigwalks, sends inventory checkers to stores to check on whether certain products are being properly displayed, as I wrote about here recently (A Mobile Army of Real-Time Inventory Checkers).
But for massive inventory tracking, Retailigence just extended its system so that brands can directly link to customers who are near their products, with the expectation of increased sales.
“Any form of ad or marketing or media should be a gateway to actual commerce,” Retailigence CEO Jeremy Geiger told me. “This is a bridge to the transaction.”
The way it works is that a brand targets shoppers near a store that has the product in inventory and using real-time bidding, purchases all the mobile advertising available in that area.
From 60% to 90% of the ad inventory is from mobile apps with the rest from mobile websites, according to Geiger.
“At the store, we know the SKU level, location and store location and can correlate in-store level sales data, by hour, minute and second,” says Geiger.
This direct connect between brand and consumer has huge potential implication for retailers and the future function of their physical facilities.
“Brands haven’t had a direct touch to the customer,” says Geiger. “CPG companies are more forward looking. Brands want connections to the consumer and they’re using the retailer as a fulfilment center.”
The long-time promise of increased efficiencies in the supply chain may be coming in the form of direct mobile commerce, more tightly between the consumer and the brand.