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Geo-Retail to the Rescue for Holiday Shopping

The vast majority of shopping is still done in stores – which is why location now makes mobile the most potent media for advertising for retailers.

All heroes start somewhere. – Guardians of the Galaxy

Let’s face it: Black Friday 2014 brought the blues to retailers. Even after doling out deep discounts on merchandise, retailers struggled to entice shoppers to Black Friday sales events. Spending was down 11 percent from a year earlier according to the National Retail Federation. A tiny bit of relief came with Cyber Monday results – e-commerce sales on the Monday after Thanksgiving hit $2.04 billion, up 17 percent compared to a year ago, but e-commerce only accounts for a mere 9 percent of total retail sales. The vast majority of shopping is still done in stores – which is why location now makes mobile the most potent media for advertising for retailers.

A few retailers are leading the charge in this space with interesting results. Lorna Jane, a leading retailer in women's fitness apparel uses the MomentFeed mobile marketing platform to target custom audiences on Facebook with localized ads. The ad dynamically changes based on the location of the Facebook user, allowing for content that was relevant and personal. “The goal is to help larger retailers maintain that level of personalization in a way that scales across hundreds or even thousands of locations,” says Elle Morgan, MomentFeed’s Marketing Manager.

Location-based ads can also boost sales during crunch time. Companies like Thumbvista allowed their customers to purchase mobile advertising for last minute Black Friday advertising to help boost sales. The company targets retailers like Argo Tea and shopping centers like Stony Brook Village Center in New York to help attract a higher volume of shoppers from their location-based campaign.

Think of it – you put a hot-selling toy or clothing item on a 24-hour super sale and deliver that message via mobile and location info directly to consumers in a specific place. The old adage meet your customer where they are takes on a whole new meaning.

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Shoppers are also much more savvy about finding exactly what they want via mobile and location based apps. Last year PriceGrabber purchased Snapette, a location-based shopping app. Why? Snapette is like a local, virtual mall that lets users browse and discover products in nearby brick-and-mortar shops. The Next Web called it Foodspotting for fashion, which is an apt description.

Of course, retailers are also prepared for Apple’s iBeacon and Apple Pay this holiday season. eMarketer’s new report on mobile marketing reports that “Beacon is an emerging technology that provides retailers a tremendous opportunity to adapt the brick and mortar experience to today’s mobile-savvy shopper.” Apple Pay just launched in October with loyalty programs tethered to iBeacon. Everyone will be anxious to see the data in early 2015 to monitor consumer adoption.

We’re going to continue to see innovations in mobile and geo-retail in 2015. eBay just launched the eBay Close 5 app which will allow users to buy and sell products within their area and perform local exchanges instead of shipping those item with others in their area.

All this bodes well for retail in general. In a world of constant news and entertainment the customer has changed the way they consume media and the way they shop. That everyone is looking at their phone is more true than ever before and geo-retail might just might revitalize shopping in ways we can only start to imagine.

Beverly Macy is author, educator, and thought leader in social and digital business and a frequent contributor to Say Media's Say Daily. She is also the author The Power of Real-Time Social Media Marketing and teaches at UCLA Anderson School of Management.

[Photo credit: Guardians of the Galaxy]

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