Mobile maps have made it incredibly easy to locate and navigate your way just about anywhere. They’re a huge asset to mobile couponers, since coupon apps like SnipSnap use smart phone GPS capabilities to remind users when they’re near a store they have a coupon for. Geolocation technology means shoppers can check in via social networks to earn loyalty rewards and access exclusive deals. And apps like shopkick can tell exactly when you’ve entered a store that will pay you to shop. Right now, you’re off the radar once you cross the threshold of your local Target but, in the near future, your smart phone will be able to steer you toward the specific items on your shopping list, so you’ll never find yourself wandering aimlessly up and down aisles again.
Several startups are getting a jump on mobile mapping. Point Inside recently raised $3.2 million from private investors and is heading into interior grocery store cartography. Aisle411 recently partnered with Walgreens to map about 7,900 of the retailer’s U.S. stores. WifiSLAM is fine-tuning indoor navigation with technology that combines Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
Big companies are in on the action too: Google has already mapped the insides of 10,000 locations like museums. 22 big names like Nokia, Samsung Electronics, Sony and Qualcomm, just formed the In-Location Alliance to joint-develop an indoor mapping project.
Interior navigation has a ton of exciting implications for shoppers and retailers. Easy-to-navigate stores might be instantly more appealing to consumers, who, in turn will be able to shop more efficiently, interactively, and (possibly) more frugally. With the ability to track individuals in-store, retailers and third party applications will have numerous new outlets to engage, reward, and communicate with shoppers throughout the duration of their shopping trips. At the very least, with interior mapping technology, you’ll never again find yourself sulking up and down supermarket aisles, searching in vain for those obscure ingredients you need to concoct that Pinterest-inspired baking project everyone’s making.