Geofencing describes the use of GPS or other technology to create a “virtual perimeter for a real-world geographic area” that can then prompt a response if a user crosses into or out of the area. For instance, brick-and-mortar retailers can use app notifications triggered through geofencing to boost customer engagement in-store.
When employed properly, geofencing can help to personalize a shopper’s experience. Notifications that promote sales, remind users of previous purchases, or offer compatible products can increase engagement two-fold compared to not using notifications.
Merging the mobile and in-store experience
When implementing geofencing on any mobile platform, the key is for the technology to improve the total experience of the customer. Some businesses offer apps that automatically switch to an “in-store mode” when customers arrive, providing access to store layouts, product location, and details about in-stock items. In these cases, the use of geofencing allows businesses to cater to their clients’ need for immediate information and do so in convenient, location-specific ways.
Shopping should be fun, and in-store gamification can increase the sense of community consumers experience in-store. For example, American Eagle has gamified the process of shopping for clothes. Shoppers can earn rewards or discounts when they try on different outfits, regardless of whether an item is purchased or not. Customers may then be incentivized to try on more clothes to see what prize they will get next—and they just might find a new favorite pair of jeans to purchase in the process.
Benefit to retailers
In addition to the perks that can be offered to customers, retailers can request feedback and customer opinions in real time to better cater to their clients’ needs. The key to being successful in geofencing, however, is to be completely transparent in the process. Consumers must be able to opt in and have control over the number and frequency of notifications to prevent becoming desensitized, annoyed, or creeped out by the technology.
When done right, both consumers and retailers can benefit from the customization and personalization provided by geofencing.