How location technology is revolutionising business

Location-based technology has been around for a number of years, yet businesses are constantly finding new and interesting ways to use it to provide innovative services to their customers. Here, Tim Andrew, co-founder of Localz, explains its potential.

Location-based technology essentially bridges the gap between on and offline channels. It has been around for a few years now but the way brands use it today is a far cry from what technologists envisaged in the early days.

Marketers thought it would be great to ping people with offers via their mobile phones as they walked past a shop, but in reality it’s very hard to do that without irritating the vast majority of passers-by.

My business, Localz, was founded two and a half years ago to help organisations take advantage of new advances in location technology and to advise them on the perfect balance between offering an enhanced service and avoiding being a pest.

Most businesses now use location-based technology to simplify business processes and to improve outcomes and experiences for their customers.

Retailers are using location-based technology to improve their click & collect service, cutting collection times drastically and taking up fewer resources in delivering purchases. In the near future, retailers will be using geo-tracking to smooth the customer’s journey to pay for products or services. Instead of buying at a till, the balance will be charged to shoppers via their phone as they cross the threshold of a store’s premise with their goods.

But location technology is not just for retailers. It is being used by logistics firms, such as DPD (a Localz client), to improve the efficiency of the last mile of delivery. Using Localz technology embedded in their Your DPD app, DPD is able to see whether the customer is at home as their driver is on the way with a delivery. Instead of missing the delivery, a notification is able to be sent to the customer to either change their delivery instructions in real-time, for example to leave it with a neighbour, or to request the driver to return later when the app recognises the customer is back at home.

Real estate agents are another industry taking advantage of the new experiences now possible. Domain, an Australian real estate portal, has recently deployed Homepass software, which is powered by Localz. It enables details about the property a customer is stood in front of to simply pop onto their mobile device. No more searching through pages of listings to find the one that the signboard in the street relates to, and lots of compelling data and insights for both customer and agent too.

Who can benefit?

All types of businesses can benefit from location based technology. There are a few things to get sorted before you start using location tools:

First, and perhaps most obviously, your business should be in touch with customers via the Internet. This could be via a website or app, but it goes without saying that a pure bricks and mortar business won’t be able to use it without an online platform.

Next you need to create a mechanism for customers to grant you access to their phone and verify that the phone is theirs. Again, it’s important that your audience is comfortable sharing data online – if not it will be hard to scale the service you provide.

It’s also important to understand how you can make life easier for your customer. This requires a long look at your business and an understanding of what’s possible, which is where experts like Localz come in.

Top tips for getting the most out of location technology

We have a guiding principle called the three R’s, which stand for Rewarding, Relevant and Respectful. These are important factors in getting the technology right.

Rewarding

If you want people to share their location with you, there absolutely must be a quid pro quo. You should offer something that is genuinely of value to the customer. Money off a purchase can be attractive but we have found that using technology to provide a faster, more relevant service is often more powerful.

Relevant

To avoid having your app rapidly deleted, you need to ensure that the information you are placing onto their personal mobile device is absolutely relevant to what they’re doing right now. Throwing a generic offer at a busy commuter as they run past your shop for a train is about the most annoying thing you can do.

And be warned, as real-time location data becomes an ever-more important tool used by savvy marketers to deliver truly relevant information to their customers at exactly the right time and place, the bar for what is genuinely relevant will inevitably rise.

Respectful

Respecting your customers is key. We occasionally get requests from organisations to track their customers secretly. We ask them to imagine that the media got hold of the story, would they be comfortable explaining this to their customers? The answer is of course ‘no’.

When you ask someone for location data it’s very important to include a message expressing clearly why you want the information and how you plan to use it.

The last piece of advice is to make sure you use location technology to take something out of someone’s day rather than adding to it. People are busy and they are surrounded by noise. The last thing they need is for you to turn up the volume.

So if I’m at an airport, ping me my boarding pass so I don’t have to find it on an email, or tell me my gate number so I don’t have to check. Better yet if I take a nap, send a message telling me boarding starts in 20 minutes and I’m 10 minutes away.

The use of location is becoming ubiquitous and services like those illustrated here demonstrate how they can be used to simplify normal working lives. As the technology improves people will be increasingly willing to use it, so there is a virtuous circle happening.

If you think your business could benefit, talk to someone who can translate the gobbledygook into plain English. From there it should be easy to understand where the technology could take you.