The applications for smartphones within physical retail environments already extend beyond in-store product or pricing comparisons by consumers. Moreover, the future use-cases that are likely to emerge in the coming year will expand across a variety of retail sectors.
It has been a breakthrough year for indoor wireless location applications for retail, with ABI Research forecasting deployments to approach 25,000 by the end of 2014 -- that's up by more than 100 percent from 2013.
"Vertically, the bulk of deployments are in clothing, big box, grocery, and shopping malls in 2014, driven by a variety of applications such as customer analytics, offers or coupons, product search, staff management, and navigation," said Patrick Connolly, senior analyst at ABI Research.
Looking toward 2015, we can expect to see the quick serve restaurant (QSR) market growing with a significant demand for queue management technologies -- as illustrated by companies like Starbucks and Taco Bell, which launched queue-skipping smartphone applications in 2014.
What is interesting is the technology mix today. ABI is seeing growth across all major technologies -- including BLE, Wi-Fi, and audio -- with 2015 being an important year for handset-based location, sensor fusion, magnetic field, and LED.
Regionally, the focus has been very much on the U.S. market in 2014, but there are now many worldwide deployments. Therefore, expect market development activity to further expand and evolve geographically in 2015.
This is a market where ABI says that they expect to see concurrent growth across the globe with more regional and vertical vendor winners, rather than one particular company dominating the whole space.
ABI's latest market assessment found that shopkick/SK Telecom, Point Inside, and Aisle411 are now leading in deployments at a cross-section of brick and mortar stores.
Over the past 12 months there has been a considerable change in deployments as companies have moved from a handful of deployments to getting into the hundreds and thousands of stores.
In 2015, expect to see camera analytics companies -- such as ShopperTrak, Irisys, and Brickstream -- playing an increasing role as they expand their offering into BLE, Wi-Fi, and in-store analytics.
Also, expect to see a lot of announcements around this growing category at the upcoming NRF 2015 event, as these companies launch new technologies and channel partnerships.