Three years ago, iconic British department store Harrod’s may have been on the forefront of wayfinding innovation when it launched a tool to help shoppers inside its 1-million-square-foot brick-and-mortar space find their way from glittering Cartier wristwatch displays to the Jimmy Choo and Chanel spectacle inside Shoe Heaven.
Technology is being applied in useful ways to enhance yet another crucial part of the consumer experience: ensuring people don’t waste time navigating through cavernous spaces and get lost in the process. Harrod’s chose to incorporate the navigation feature into its mobile application, working with tech firm Pointr to leverage an array of 500 iBeacons and Bluetooth technology to guide shoppers to their destination.
Though today the market for indoor location solutions and technologies is valued at $3.5 billion as of last year, ResearchandMarkets.com expects it to grow at a combined annual growth rate of 25.3 percent through 2027 to reach an estimated $24.6 billion.
Airports and other sprawling transportation venues have been quick to adopt indoor location technologies to better serve time-pressed or language-challenged travelers. But retail is faced with more complex challenges. With greater choices than ever of where and how to shop, customers who make the journey to a shopping center or large department store will want to be rewarded with innovations that show their time is valuable. When trading in the convenience of browsing and buying with a few clicks online, consumers expect to receive a superior physical experience.
Companies like Aisle411 in addition to Pointr are among the leaders in the indoor location positioning space, providing solutions like mapping, tracking, positioning, navigation, contextual alerts—or all of the above, with or without augmented reality (AR). Blippar, an AR startup that raised $131.7 million over four rounds, unveiled an eye-catching AR-based wayfinding solution last summer, only to plunge into bankruptcy by year’s end. Though it was purchased early this year by Candy Ventures with a refreshed focus on its AR publishing platform and content creation tool for brands, there’s no word yet on whether it will altogether abandon efforts around indoor wayfinding.
Navigation might be one of the most interesting applications for indoor location technologies, but beyond customer experience management, businesses can benefit from using the tech for remote asset monitoring, managing inventories, optimizing sales and marketing campaigns, and predictive asset analytics, according to ResearchandMarket.com.
Developed retail-rich markets like the U.S., U.K, Germany and South Korea are expected to drive the growth of the indoor location technologies market as the emphasis on experiential retailing continues.