How retail is using location services to compete with online sales

How retail is using location services to compete with online sales

In today’s modern world, consumers are starting to expect a more personalized shopping and dining experiences. Those experiences are expected to allow for personal connection with the brands they love.

The back side of this personalizing comes with the need for a whole lot of location analytics and data. Consumers want personalized deals for in store shopping. People want food delivery straight to their door. They want wayfinding apps so they can navigate a hotel or hospital without getting lost. People want virtual healthcare.

All of these examples are why in-person experiences have struggled to compete with online business. In the online world, those things are easy to do. They’re more convenient for customers (and more enticing). It’s hard for a company to drive foot traffic to physical locations when in competition with the online convenience version.

Location analytics and retail

Location services and analytics are enabling companies to bridge a long-existing gap between the online and in-person world, potentially reviving in-person shopping, dining, and healthcare, among other industries.

Keep reading to learn more about how location services help solve a modern-day dilemma in a retail setting.

Retailers and consumers move to online

While advertising online offers companies an in-depth look at customer actions, in-store experiences struggle to match that level of feedback. Online retailers can see what people buy, how much they spent, how many touch-points it took before they purchased, etc. This means they are better able to serve customers personalized advertising and promotions – making them more likely to come back and buy that lamp they spent 10 minutes looking at online (because of the re-targeting ads that follow suit).

A brick and mortar retailer might not be able to get that level of insight with the conventional shopping experience and a lack of actionable consumer behavior insights. Until lately, the only information an in-person retailer could gather from you when you visited their location is verification you were there by whatever transaction occurred with your credit card.

The gap in data from the online vs the in-person world is one in desperate need of closing. The pandemic creates roadblocks and setbacks for in-person shopping. Location-based services are needed now more than ever to make the most out of store operations. Not only will it help with revenue loss, but it will also help with employee and consumer safety and satisfaction.

So how can location analytics REALLY make that much of an impact on performance of physical businesses? Especially now during a global pandemic?

Online VS In-Store – The Epic Push and Pull

Much like an online retailer sending you a promo code for 20% off your next order “today only,” a brick and mortar retailer could do essentially the same thing with location services and analytics capabilities in their store.

For example, a car pulls into the parking lot of your store and location tracking recognizes they are in range of the store network. You send them an email with a coupon valid in store, enticing them to shop.

Location tracking and analytics allows companies to make the physical shopping experience just as personalized as an online experience. If you think about it, it almost makes it MORE enticing than placing your order online. When you order online, you cannot touch, feel, or see in-person what the product looks like. A huge factor that deters online shopping is the inability to see the product in person. What’s stopping people from shopping in-store for that item vs online? Time and money.

According to a survey by Imprint Plus, the reason 52% of those surveyed said they liked online shopping is because of convenience, price comparisons, and free shipping and returns. If you can send a personalized ad to a consumer for a specific product valid in-store, the customer can easily go to the store, pick up the item (probably using wayfinding tools to find the item when inside the store), pay quickly and leave. This is much more “convenient” for most people than waiting 3-5 business days for shipping.

So, how does this work for enterprises?

Like an online ad conversion rate, but for in-store product displays

Location services allow retailers to use consumer data to make decisions on optimal operations best practices. This includes deciding which displays perform best, what route shoppers take in the store, where they visit the most and least, etc.

All these things help create a better shopping experience for the guest, but also create streamlined operations and less revenue loss due to poor store layouts. In addition, you have the ability to send strategic marketing to a customer who spent time shopping a certain department or aisle. Oh, and don’t forget about safety enhancements needed for operating during a pandemic.

Below are some examples of the type of data that can be captured and shared with marketing, business intelligence, and financial analyst teams in your organization.

Capture Rates

Capture rate refers to how many people pass by your store and how many turn into store visitors. This information is important for foot traffic analysis and determining how many people in range convert to actual customers.


Get insight on how long your customers stay when they visit. This information can shed light on average shopping times. Paired with occupancy data, this can help figure out where customers spend the most time in your store, paths they take through it, etc.


Gain insight on return vs new customers.  This loyalty data can help determine how often a customer shops, whether it’s daily, weekly, monthly or yearly.  Loyalty data is useful for marketing teams when sending out promotions and coupons to loyal customers, or enticing new customers to return.


Safety in these times is a top priority for retail stores. Gone are the days of manually counting occupancy in a given location. Location services allow you to keep a handle on the occupants of a certain location. It can even point out hotspots for foot traffic within your store. You can see data on peak hours of traffic and adjust operations accordingly. Location analytics creates actionable insights for things like store layouts to increase social distancing.

What can location services and analytics do for my business?

Deploying location analytics capability in a retail store can provide many actionable insights.

Things like:


Mobile Engagement:

Mobile engagement provides guest with wayfinding maps and directions, personalized content, location sharing capability, etc. This is all done on a user’s existing mobile device.

Asset Tracking:

Asset tracking is a great tool for retailers and healthcare. Keep tabs on high-value assets, find product easier and faster, reduce retail shrink, etc.

Location Analytics:

Location analytics allow you access to a multitude of valuable insights into guest behavior. With location analytics, you can see how long a guest visited a certain part of your store, hotel, etc. You can see where guests visited most and least, and make changes based on operational policies. This ensures guest counts aren’t exceeding the maximum allotment.

Other pieces of location analytics include tracking store associates to enable a better guest experience. Track if a guest is new or returning. See when your store is busiest. The possibilities are endless based on you individual enterprise needs.

How can my team implement a robust solution like this?

Bringing it Home to Your Enterprise

You’ll likely will be able to use existing infrastructure to implement location services. This makes it easy for your MSP to install location services that work best with your existing infrastructure. Using an MSP can make the world of difference since your internal IT teams are likely swamped.

Comm-Works is the global leader in IT services and integration. We have over 25 years of experience designing, installing, and managing IT systems for the largest enterprises in the world. We can take the burden off your internal IT. From retail to healthcare, and from manufacturing to hospitality, we work in any industry across entire enterprises world-wide to create a solution that meets your business needs.

Manufacturers and Partners

Comm-Works has partnered with the top manufacturers in the location analytics world. We are able to select from our wide network of partners to ensure you an IT solution custom made for any enterprise location.

Reach out to us today to see how location services and analytics can help take your business to the next level.

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Comm-Works is a reliable managed IT services provider that provides the range of benefits your organization may need to reach this scale during times of uncertainty.