While other innovative modern technologies, like virtual reality (VR) showrooms and interactive window displays, are still going through testing, indoor positioning systems already play a major role in the traditional shopping experience.
An effective wayfinding system eliminates the common frustration you’ll face of trying to find products and services in large malls with multiple stores.
But, indoor location services come in many different forms, and not all are created equal. Here is a list of 7 technologies that are currently available for you to use in malls.
Beacon-based platforms are currently the most popular category of indoor navigation.
This technology works on a simple premise: beacons are placed at numerous positions across the entire shopping centre, and send directions to users’ smartphones via Bluetooth.
While the technology itself provides accurate positioning, this solution is far from perfect. There is a higher cost associated with this type of navigation as, aside from the initial investment in beacons, the batteries need frequent replacement. The accuracy of this system also gradually diminishes as the batteries wear out.
In addition, it can take up to a few weeks to deploy a beacon-based navigation solution.
Although GPS was originally designed to support outdoor orientation, some systems, such as Google Maps’ Indoor Maps, use it for indoor wayfinding. However, GPS does not function properly in large facilities, where walls and similar obstacles interfere with the signal between satellites and mobile devices, leading to positioning errors. When talking about indoor locations, a 30-metre blunder, for example, is significant.
In a world where customers demand a high standard of positioning accuracy, this technology offers no substantial advantages over other systems.
Some shopping malls use SMS to help customers navigate their facilities.
The visitor initiates the digital navigation process by sending a text message with their current position and the targeted location to the system. In less than a minute, the platform responds with turn-by-turn directions.
This method is highly accurate, but there are significant downsides to its use. People are reluctant to disclose phone numbers due to privacy issues, and the system does not work in real time. In addition, SMS platforms don’t function well in dead zones with poor signal.
This platform relies on a massive database of photos of every store in a shopping centre. When users want to find a specific shop, they simply take a photo of their current position, and the algorithm finds and suggests the best route to their destination.
It’s not the best solution because image processing depends on many factors, including camera angles, lighting effects, and transparency. It is unlikely the success rate of this platform will reach 100 per cent, undermining the accuracy of indoor positioning systems.
Privacy is also a concern with this platform, because it requires customers to grant access to their mobile phone cameras.
Visual markers identify a user's location through smartphone cameras. This indoor navigation platform decodes coordinates, namely latitude, longitude, and height, based on strategically-placed visual markers inside the mall.
However, the technology is slow to deploy, and once again, requires a direct connection with mobile device cameras, chasing many potential customers away from the platform.
This well-known solution displays visually appealing interactive maps to help shoppers navigate around the mall.
Kiosks allow shoppers to quickly identify where they are, check out the floor plan, and find the most direct route to the store of their choice.
But in 2019, people have high expectations of customer service. Asking them to walk around and search for the nearest available kiosk is not the best way to elevate the customer experience. Today, shoppers demand indoor location platforms that are self-sufficient and available instantly.
Print and display a stack of shopping mall maps at the information desk to give customers a completely analog wayfinding solution. Some users may find this retro method is not without its charms, but it has no place in the modern shopping mall environment.
Mall mApp is a completely free app that provides a high-quality indoor navigation platform for you to use in your favourite shopping centre. The app eliminates every barrier to effortless orientation, and drastically improves your experience.
Mall mApp is the only indoor navigation solution that effectively fulfills all the demands of a superior customer experience at once. It is accurate, simple, cost-effective, and readily available. This is the finest indoor navigation system on the market.
And best of all, it’s completely free!