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Location-based service apps yield trove of information

When customers come into a store with offers from location-based service apps, like mobile wallets, it indicates a new level of buying intention greater than just window shopping.

As location-based technologies gather steam, they are helping companies use the reach of online tools and technologies to get people back into the stores to buy products. With the recession, the growth of online retail, and the rise of the voice of the customer, companies need to entice buyers to return to the store and to buy while they are there. Location-based service apps like mobile wallets, Beacon sensors and mobile apps have helped seal the deal to turn customer online browsing into in-store purchasing.

Companies are using information that they can gather about customers, including location and other data, to provide digital offers that can augment customers' experience in stores.

Men's retailer Men's Wearhouse, for example, uses Mobile wallet technology to provide unique offers when customers are proximal to the store. Not only does it provide consumers with additional discounts and convenient information when they are near a physical location, but it gives sales associates critical data about consumers, including that they are ready to buy because they have downloaded coupons to their mobile wallet on their smartphone, for example.

"When a customer comes in to Men's Wearhouse and they know this customer has come in because they have saved a coupon to their wallet, they know this person has the intent to buy," said Brent Leary, a CRM expert and a principal at CRM Essentials. "Instead of someone just wandering into the store  -- who may just be looking -- if someone comes in with a coupon they have saved to their mobile wallet, that is a level of intent that is different than someone just window shopping."

"I think it's a must-thing to do," Leary said. "It's all about using the reach of online tools and technologies to get people moving to the actual physical location and once people get to that location, that's the challenge."

Companies also need to be careful stewards of consumer data. They need to avoid barraging customers with endless offers or sharing personal data with other companies without customer consent. While 57% of respondents to a recent Forrester survey are willing to share data in exchange for offers and discounts, they also want assurance that their data will be handled with care.

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