GPS Moves Indoors

Location technology making its way into retail and more.

By on April 11, 2013

Now an integral part of everyday life, GPS makes it easy for users to pinpoint an exact location. This technology has a myriad of applications today, from street navigation to keeping track of your family or family pets. Although three-quarters of smartphone owners are using location-based services such as navigation apps, these capabilities largely have been limited to outdoor use. That’s all beginning to change as companies start to develop innovative technologies to bring GPS indoors.

The retail industry is tapping indoor location technology, and ABI Research predicts the retail indoor location market will reach $5 billion in 2018. The technology delivers in-store directions to preferred products and personalized promotions directly to customers. Macy’s, for example, now offers an app with turn-by-turn indoor directions for its flagship location in New York City, while Walgreens’ customers can view the maps of any Walgreens store to locate products by aisle and section as well as maintain shopping lists. Alternatively, for smaller retailers, this same technology allows them to increase their local search presence, improve product placement and enhance customer service efficiency by bringing help directly to the customer.

Also, Apple recently announced its acquisition of WiFiSlam, a small indoor location technology company that allows smartphone users to pinpoint their locations and that of friends’ devices in real-time. The service will help to increase the accuracy and usefulness of apps such as Reminders or Find My Friends, among others.

Indoor location services have the potential to impact numerous industries, bringing new opportunities for engagement at every turn.