• BURN MEDIA
    • Motorburn
      Because cars are gadgets
    • Gearburn
      Incisive reviews for the gadget obsessed
    • Ventureburn
      Startup news for emerging markets
    • Jobsburn
      Digital industry jobs for the anti 9 to 5!

Street-front businesses win with Pokemon Go, different story for those indoors

I’ll admit: I’ve got to catch them all. And in all probability you do too.

The last few weeks I’ve been reading the various takes on how businesses can capitalize on the Pokemon Go craze. Marketing media in particular seem to be trying to help brands and agencies understand the opportunities for them in the fastest growing mobile game of all time.

Do you try to get your brand in Pokemon Go by working directly with Niantic? Do you buy hundreds of “lure modules” and tell players that the Pokemon in your outlets are for paying customers only? Do you offer discounts for certain Pokemon Go teams? The game may be augmented reality, but the Pokeconomy is real.

Today lure modules seem like the best solution for businesses to jump into Pokemon Go before it becomes passe. They’re cheap, fast and guarantee 30-minutes of customer foot traffic. Time that around meals (for a restaurant) or happy hour (for a bar) and you may very well see the incremental revenue roll in.

One aspect of the game’s creation though, that most people aren’t talking about, is that so much of its capabilities are predicated on users being outside. This is great as, in many ways, Pokemon Go is the anti-computer game as it gets people outdoors, interacting with others.

I know I’ve been soaring past my own step count while on the hunt, but on the flip side, many retail locations aren’t outdoors, they’re inside shopping malls, airports and other destinations where GPS just can’t go.

Pokemon Go is the anti-computer game as it gets people outdoors, interacting with others

If you’ve taken your Pokemon Go indoors you’ve probably noticed a few things. If the GPS signal gets too weak, the game simply stops working. If it continues to work indoors it can’t navigate you the way it does outdoors with specificity and accuracy. Where a street may appear when you’re outside, a wall or private/employee-only area can’t be demarcated within the app. Why? Most indoor spaces have yet to be mapped the way that Google has done to the outdoors.

Business owners need to understand the current limitations of their infrastructure before investing in Pokemon Go, or worse, investing in the creation of their own augmented reality game. Retailers have learned one very important lesson in the last few years, which is that customers are fickle and expect to receive a consistent omnichannel experience from the brands that they give their wallet share to.

If a retailer invests in a lure module only to have the app not perform in the way customers expect when they’re in the retail outlet, then the purpose of the lure can quickly backfire.

With the right infrastructure in place, anything is possible. Pokemon Go, for one, is based on the Google Maps backbone, which enables it to provide such an accurate and immersive experience to users. But when it comes to the indoors there are walls, paths, public and private spaces that most haven’t realized aren’t yet mapped.

Pokemon Go reaffirms what brick and mortar business owners have known for years: the physical world has unique appeal and a digital experience to enhance the physical one is what gets people moving — now literally.

And just like with all other digital omnichannel experiences, taking Pokemon Go indoors requires infrastructure that is often taken for granted. Up-to-date maps, location, and points of interest are the backbone of what made the world’s fastest growing mobile game possible. Indoor businesses for once have some catching up to do before they can catch all the customers themselves.

Author | Hongwei Liu

Hongwei Liu
Hongwei is the CEO and co-founder of Mappedin, a digital wayfinding solution that helps customers manage their dynamic indoor spaces, enabling consumers to find what they are looking for – by category, brand, product and promotion. Formerly, Hongwei worked with brilliant people at BlackBerry's radio-frequency lab and studied Electrical... More