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Geolocation for Retail business: a Woosmap Talks with Sara Zanocchio


Geolocation for retail business means more than just maps and directions. Today, geolocalisation is a powerful ally of marketing and business. It identifies habits and meets customers’ needs when and where they arise. Geolocation can then contribute to the transformation of retail models, towards more customer-centric approaches. Sara Zanocchio, Head of Sales South Europe and D-A-CH at Woosmap, tells us more about it.

Hello Sara, let's get straight to the point about retail business services. What benefits does geolocalisation offer to the world of retail and e-commerce?

When we talk about the benefits of geolocation in retail business, we need to focus first on customer experience. Because the most successful brands and retail companies are now adopting a“customer-centric” approach. And it is a common misconception to think that geolocation services would not fit in that story. But geolocation can help brands build satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy, the three real objectives of customer-centricity.

Because geolocation can help to identify customer segments. As well as understand what they value and their expectations towards the brand or retailer.

For instance, with proximity-based geo-marketing campaigns, a brand can increase the Drive-to-store. This approach works by sending push notifications when the customer is in transit near a specific area. Geolocation-targeted messages can also communicate an opportunity and trigger impulse buying. For instance, when it informs a customer that a desired product is just a short drive away. Or that curbside pickup is available.

Geolocation also informs decision-making on the retailer side. Because with contextual marketing strategies retailers can analyse habits, and identify user segments attending locations and brands on recurring days or times. For example, people visiting airports and shopping centres at weekends will receive notifications of offers on-site when they would benefit from them.

Behavioural analysis is also useful against the competition. The regular customers of an organic shop can be notified by a competitor about e-commerce offers on its own organic line.

What are the main misconceptions about geolocation-based marketing?

Geolocation-based marketing strategies should be coherent with the brand’s positioning or customers will perceive them as spam. Therefore, geotargeted messages should be limited in volume, convey a clear message and bring value to the customers. 

It is also important to explain that we deal with first-party notifications. They are sent to customers who have willingly installed a brand’s or retailer’s application. Geolocation brings value and customers receive it positively only if it is based on the willingness to share geographic information. And the clear agreement from those customers to receive messages. Historically, Google Android users manifested a higher opt-in rate (85 to 90%), compared to 45% for iOS. In 2021, Apple introduced its AppTrackingTransparency (ATT) feature that generated a drop in opt-in. But App opt-in rates on iOS are now back on the rise with 25% in 2022, up 9% since the release of ATT (Statista data).

Some brands and retailers still have a restricted view of geolocation-based marketing, only as an ad targeting tool. While geolocation should be considered a “CRM enhancing tool”. Because it enables to segment customers and personalise services based on context and local information.


How have customers’ expectations evolved and how does it impact geolocation for retail business?

If we look at the bigger picture, customers have higher and higher expectations. And they will always compare a company to the experience that had the most lasting impression on them. In this very competitive context, geolocation can help brands keep up with customers’ expectations.

Because retailers can no longer focus only on products and services to please their target audiences. In fact, 80% of consumers consider that the experience they have with a brand is as important as products and services. Most of those customers (66%) even expect brands and retailers to understand their needs and expectations, especially Gen Z who are shaping the future of shopping with their attention to brands’ ethics and values.

Most expect a connected journey across multiple channels and a personalised experience. Yet only 27% of consumers completely understand how brands and retailers use their personal information. Nevertheless, they value their privacy. And a large majority of customers (up to 86%) clearly state that they want more transparency on how companies collect information about them and use it (Salesforce, "State of the Connected Customer" 2020).

This implies that retailers and brands must respect privacy regulations. Such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation in the European Union), the UK’s Data Protection Act, and CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act). That’s why it is critical to leverage first-party data for marketing operations. This means that companies have acquired Data through the explicit consent of customers. And enriched it with clearly opted-in geolocation tracking options.

What are Woosmap’s solutions to address those needs in retail business services and answer customers’ expectations?

The Woosmap location intelligence platform offers strategic benefits to all digital touchpoints, improving and accelerating the Customer Journey from the homepage to checkout.

Let’s see an example on the e-commerce side. Leroy Merlin, the French-headquartered home improvement and gardening retailer, has activated Woosmap on touchpoints to display the nearest shop directly on its homepage. This strategy is in full compliance with the GDPR privacy principles.

This web UX approach to simplify the customer journey is a top priority. Because now 60% of worldwide online traffic arrives from mobile, 50% in Europe (Statcounter, November 2022). As a consequence, reducing clicks before purchase is more important than ever. To lower abandonment rates, speed up checkout and boost conversion rates.

On product pages, the Woosmap automatic geolocation feature (that makes suggestions of the nearest shop) increases the add-to-cart by an average of 12%. Overall, our data indicate that Geomarketing and data-driven strategies generate an increase of up to 15% in the average shopping cart value

Retailers get this type of insight because they can accurately measure ROI on geographically localised campaigns.

With feedback in terms of sales results and volume of shop visits. This granularity of ROI measure wouldn’t be possible for traditional campaigns without geolocation. Major retailers also share analytics with partners or consumer brands in “data marketplaces” to help them build more successful marketing campaigns. For instance, Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, launched at the end of 2021 its own “data platform”. Walmart Luminate is a suite of data products built for Walmart's internal merchants and outside vendors. It enables them to dig into the data of its 150 million online and in-store customer visits per week. 


What evolution does Geolocalisation allow today? What can retailers now do that was impossible until recently?

To keep this reflection customer-centric, let’s talk first about the services that customers are looking for. Like Click & Collect or BOPIS (buy online, pickup in-store). It has become a popular shopping choice for 50% of adult shoppers. 87% of US retailers offer click and collect from at least one of their locations (Lasership study, 2021). BOPIS represented 70 billion dollars in orders in 2020 (almost 10% of US retail e-commerce orders) (InsiderIntelligence study).

Customers are willing to share data if they can get this flexibility in delivery and even save money. They also need to trust the brand, and they expect that this exchange will result in more accurate and personalised messages.

Here is a business case for Woosmap Geofencing SDK, with a leading fast-food brand. They can now schedule order pick-up times based on the distance between the user and the restaurant. The order preparation will start just in time for the customer to get their meal still “hot off the grill” and with no waiting time. This increases Customer Satisfaction and optimises operations on the kitchen side.

On the retailer side, geofencing technologies enable the creation of other types of tailor-made scenarios for the user. Because companies can better understand the customers’ needs and communicate only offers of interest. The customers feel that their needs are understood and anticipated. Therefore, they become loyal customers who are 1.5 more likely to share information (especially on social media) or talk about a brand or shopping destination (Meta and GroupeM study about loyalty marketing, 2021). But to turn customers into advocates, they must “feel like they are valued by the brand as much as they value the brand”.


What impact does Woosmap have on the customer experience? 

That’s very tangible. Today's retail business consumer is a very fast-moving public that loves simplicity. When looking for a product online, customers want to find it in minutes. The pandemic has generated an explosion of this type of request. The Customer Journeyneeds to be fast and without any bottlenecks. Any operation perceived as tiring or unclear can lead to the abandonment of the shopping cart.

In 2022, 69.99% of shopping carts are still abandoned before checkout completion (worldwide estimates by Baymard Institute). Some of those cart abandonments are unavoidable because consumers like to browse and compare products and prices. Therefore, 48% of abandonments are linked to too high prices or delivery costs. But other factors can be smoothed out. In particular “too long or complicated checkout processes” cause 17% of shopping cart abandonments. Also not offering alternatives to costly deliveries, like curbside pickup, can generate frustration and push consumers to find a competitor that fits their commuting habits.

Woosmap accelerates all relevant processes. From the identification of products and points of sale to the autocomplete option for addresses, which could be slow or inaccurate manually, causing delays or missed deliveries. 


Can you share more examples of geolocation for retail business?

Retailers Carrefour and Decathlon have implemented very advanced Store Locators, which show the nearest shop with just a few clicks. Global fashion brand Benetton has included autocomplete on product pages, to search for the availability and boost the call to action.

Euronics is the Largest Electrical Buying Group in Europe, with 30 Member countries across Europe and 11,000 specialist stores and branches, reaching 600 million consumers. They have installed autocomplete at checkout to reduce the abandonment rate where the risk is at its highest. This is backed by their policy to offer Free Delivery on hundreds of everyday products or Click & Collect for delivery to a store.

Then, depending on the channel, the user obtains specific benefits. From the app, the customer receives information about an in-store promotion when they can actually take advantage of it. When they leave home or work. Not when they are stuck in the office or have already reached their destination. Under this logic of opportunity, customers will not perceive those advertising messages as spam, but as useful information. 


Looking to the future of retail business, what does Innovation mean for Woosmap?

Innovation doesn’t stem only from technology. The most innovative approaches in retail are those that improve customer experience. Like having a search engine, indicating the available stock of products directly from the home page, or speeding up the delivery of products or services. This means that retailers need to adopt a customer-centric approach, to decide where technologies can improve their interactions with clients. 

Geolocation technologies can make the Customer Experience an individual one. Because many big companies still leave customers struggling alone, searching for information, products and delivery options. But thanks to geolocalisation, everything can now be custom-made. From the first access to checkout, the uniqueness of the customer is recognised and supported.


What is the next frontier in retail business innovation?

Now, the next frontier is revolutionising the in-store experience with indoor mapping using indoor geofencing. Because it is important to take into account mobile behaviours as 80% of shoppers also use their mobile phone while they are on-site in the store (Outerboxdesign, 2022 survey). Those customers search for products, compare prices and even check alternative locations while they are already physically there. That is why it is necessary to give them contextual information to smooth out the “last mile” effort, up to the shelf and checkout.

Geolocation for retail business can then help to Optimise itineraries in large shops and rearrange the shopping list according to the distribution of the departments.

Let’s not forget also that sales do not end at checkout. So innovation also means improving order preparations by reducing time and distances of in-store trips. The same principle will guide browsing at airports by points of interest. Or the work of store pickers in e-commerce, who need to reach products scattered in vast warehouses in the shortest possible time.

Therefore, the challenge is now to connect the outdoor experience with the indoor experience. For instance to measure the efficiency of a push notification campaign with data on visits generated online and in the store. With a multi-channel attribution model. Applications are particularly important for those strategies. To collect qualitative first-party data, respectful of privacy policies, and enable to offer services tailored to the customer's individual needs.

Woosmap and its geolocation API platform bring this level of expertise to retailers and e-commerce brands. To contribute to the transformation of their business model.


Sara’s interview was conducted jointly with our partner Softec. We would like to thank them for their trust!