By Lisa Seacat Deluca
We’re bombarded by deals every day. Get an extra 10 percent off (if you use a coupon). Get your tenth cup of coffee for free (if you use a rewards card). What if the “deal” was something you didn’t have to remember to bring with you, or something you didn’t even have to remember you previously received?
What if it was pushed to your mobile device based on a store you were nearby, or a particular section of the store you were shopping in? What if the “deal” was personalized for you based on your shopping habits?
That’s the idea behind what I’m building into IBM Presence Insights. Think of Presence Insights as a smart service that can interpret the large amounts of data it receives from Internet of Things devices such as in-store sensors that can connect to your mobile device. It acts almost like an indoor GPS, recognizing shopper patterns, or their movements in a store or venue, and events, like how long they spend in a particular section of the store, to better understand real-time shopping habits.
All the events that these sensors capture gets combined on the cloud, along with a touch of information that the retailer already knows about you, and the result is a powerful platform to give you useful offers when you might actually use them. And yes, I do have three Estimote beacons in different rooms of my house to test this indoor location tech.
I have two-and-a-half year old twin boys, so I shop for baby wipes all the time. I’d love it if the stores where my husband and I shop used a mobile location-based service like this. The stores could look up our purchase history for baby wipes and when either of us is walking near a section of a store that has wipes, and we are likely running low, they could offer a discount to us on the spot – no extra cards or paper coupons or (gasp!) my husband and I needing to remind each other to pick more up.
And because the service will know where I am, it will also know what else is near me in the store, what else I buy at that store – and how often. So, it could remind me that I might also need more diapers. And when I check out, the integrated point-of-sale system will also be able to push an offer based on what’s in my cart before I pay.
What I’m building on top of Presence Insights has mobile and analytics services to create this experience, and is available to play with today. A retailer would first use IBM’s cloud platform Bluemix to spin up, and customize, their own version of Presence Insights. Then, they’ll need sensors, like the Bluetooth beacons I’m testing. These sensors connect to the retailer’s mobile application installed on a customer’s mobile device. They send proximity events to the retailer’s Presence Insights instance. Presence Insights then analyzes the event and the store’s layout, determining if the shopper entered a new part of the store, exited a department, or spent a lot of time in a particular location.
Going back to my example of baby wipes, this is the part of the equation that deciphers my location, and makes a decision that, since it knows my shopping history and the fact that I’ve been checking out different brands of baby wipes for more than 10 minutes, I should get a coupon notification. Or, maybe an offer of more information, like additional product details or customer reviews. It also knows that the last time I bought baby wipes was online. Then I might get an offer to just send the box of wipes to my house so I don’t have to lug it to my car, as I likely also have two toddlers in tow.
The future of shopping won’t be dictated by cards, coupons, or some other “catch” to get a deal. Whether you forgot to bring your coupons to the grocery store, or you just want that free cup of coffee (without a card), or in my case, a good discount on baby wipes, the experience will be personal, wherever you are.
For more on IBM Presence Insights, check out Empowering transformative customer experiences.