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Two personalization tactics retailers must master: geolocation and real-time communications

Author: Sean Keith

Context, as they say, is key. The key to understanding meaning, to generating a response, to explaining and influencing behavior. For retailers striving to optimize their offers and promotions, the context they should be concerned with is time and place.

An offer that is delivered when a consumer is in the right place at the right time to make a purchase is considered contextually relevant, and is much more likely to result in a conversion. For ecommerce-only retail operations, this is standard practice – think Amazon’s recommendation engine or a discount email sent after cart abandonment. But for retailers with a brick-and-mortar presence, deploying contextually relevant offers is the exception rather than the norm.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Technology is available today for retailers to deliver location-based offers in real time, resulting in even greater conversions at brick-and-mortar locations. By adopting proximity awareness technology, retailers can identify a customer when they are nearby the store and then deliver relevant, personalized offers through the mobile channel.

Here They Are

Recognizing where a customer or potential customer is in physical space may seem like a futuristic (some might say dystopian) proposition. The fact is, this is a reality today. Retailers have an unprecedented opportunity to take advantage of the ubiquity and connectivity of customers’ mobile devices to determine where they are, and influence what they do next. To realize this capability in a responsible way, retailers should deploy loyalty apps and use geo-targeted push notifications when a customer is in proximity. 

Location-based deployment can ensure that the customer receives the offer when they are in the right place to act on it. Geo-location can even, in some cases, draw in new customers who are nearby, provided they have opted into Wi-Fi or location services.

Consider this potential scenario: a consumer is walking around the local shopping district, browsing, perhaps, or maybe killing time before meeting a friend for lunch. She happens to be a member of a retailer’s loyalty program and due to a previous promotion, she has the retailer’s loyalty app downloaded to her smartphone. As she strolls by the retailer’s storefront, the app’s location services recognizes her position and triggers an automatic offer as a push notification designed to get her to come inside. Because that retailer has the technology in place to connect that consumer’s loyalty data with her in-store and online purchase history, the offer is tailored to her personally: 20% off a shirt that matches the pants she bought online two weeks ago, which is available in the store, in her size, right now.  

Of course, she walks in. More likely than not, she buys the shirt.

The geolocation technology that triggered the offer is only one reason it had a maximum likelihood of redemption. Two other aspects made it truly contextually relevant: the fact that it was deployed at the exact right time, and that it was personalized based on customer data.

Real-Time Issuance and Contextual Engagement

Real-time offer deployment is the key to activating location-based marketing. Real-time offers can be tailored to the individual customer using data from a loyalty program or other customer relationship management system to determine the best time and offer type will best resonate with that individual customer. Importantly, that time may not be linked to the customer’s physical location (though, as illustrated in the example above, it can be quite effective when it is), but it does need to be linked to the time the customer is making a decision. When a retailer can identify (or approximate) the time of decision-making, getting an offer in front of that customer at that exact time drastically increases the chances of influencing that decision in favor of the retailer.
Context – specifically time and place – is a major factor in whether an offer is acted upon, ignored and discarded. Retailers who want to optimize their offer and promotions strategies – or their customer engagement strategies in general – need the tools to understand this context and take advantage of it. Specifically, this means having the technology to recognize a customer’s location and deliver an offer to them in real time, where and when it will have the most effect.

Most retailers will need a technology partner to take full advantage of contextual marketing. Eagle Eye, whose AIR digital marketing platform enables the issuance, management and redemption of gifts and rewards in real-time, can help you get there. Contact us today.