Aisle411 plots its course

The U.S.-based startup plans to enter Canada this year, with its Geo-Fence Alerts which allows retailers to reach shoppers when they step foot in stores.

At the Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas earlier this month, U.S.-based startup Aisle411 showcased its latest iteration of indoor location products, launching Geo-Fence Alerts, which alerts shoppers of special offers on products while they peruse store aisles, naming Walgreens as its first partner retailer.

The company is currently seeking to partner with global retailers (grocery, home improvement and big box) that have a presence in Canada, in order to provide its products to retailers north of the border, says Nathan Pettyjohn, Aisle411′s CEO. The company services more than 10,000 retail locations in the U.S., and so “expanding our solution in Canada is a natural extension,” he notes.

Still in its pilot stage, the Geo-Fence Alerts allow Walgreens to send welcome messages that inform customers of a discounted product or offer a digital coupon the minute they step in the store. The alerts are sent using WiFi points in the store, and only those who have downloaded the Walgreens or Aisle411 apps can receive the messages. The technology lives within Aisle411′s app free-of-charge, he adds, but the retailer can pay a licensing fee to have it integrated into its own platform.

The Geo-Fence Alert offering is a build on Aisle411′s already existing “in-store search” and “navigation” products accessible within the company’s app as well as partner retailer apps (such as Price Chopper and Shop ‘n Save). The in-store search allows users to browse through store locations to find a particular item, and they can then opt to use the navigation function to obtain in-store directions to help find the item when they get there. For example, a customer can punch in a shopping list of items and have the app map out the exact aisles they’re located in.

“Say a customer goes into aisle one, two and six, but the retailer wants them to go to aisle five. It can recommend relevant offers in that aisle related to products they’re looking for,” he says of how the search and navigation functions complement the alerts, allowing the retailer to tailor relevant messages for shoppers based on previous product searches.

In addition, third-party advertisers can also serve banner ads and sponsored pin drops (a branded pin found on a store map) in the app. The ads can promote in-store offers, digital coupons and information related to the brand. And the call-to-action is typically for the customer to add its product to their shopping list or to map it in-store, he adds, subsequently benefiting the retailer as the shopper’s basket increases. Coca-Cola, Bacardi, General Mills and P&G are among some of the brands that have advertised on the app in the U.S.

The next step for Aisle411 is to expand out to new retail channels such as toy and sporting good stores. Taking it even further, Pettyjohn says he hopes to eventually have a presence in quick service restaurants such as McDonald’s. “You could have a person walk into the restaurant’s parking lot and they could discover a unique special offer on their phone,” he says. “The major appeal is discovery, convenience and time-saving. Any shopping experience, whether it’s through e-commerce or in-store, needs to be convenient for the customer. It’s very competitive out there, and the easier it is to shop, the more loyalty you build with the customer.”