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Five Ways Location Tech Is Powering The Digital Economy

As consumers navigated through the ‘first wave’ of Covid-19, the world had a glimpse of a near-future – where technology doesn’t just improve the infrastructure our lives revolve around but is the infrastructure. One overwhelmingly clear trend rose above the pack: the acceleration towards a digital-first economy, where even consumers with ‘traditional’ values or far-flung postal codes turned to eCommerce as the new normal.

The recent, explosive rise of eCommerce over the past few months alone is of course dramatic – but not surprising. This is a long-tail trend driven by consumer demand and technological possibility. In fact, last year alone it was estimated that global eCommerce was worth $5.353 trillion. By 2023, it’s expected to exceed $6.542 trillion.

Yet, with so much attention placed on the consumer benefits, many have missed a key part of the story: what is driving that technological possibility? Our latest International Retail Index found that 92% of businesses cite ‘location-based technology’ to be a game-changer, with wide-ranging impact – from improving operational efficiency, to increasing revenue, to optimising customer experience at the front-end. Let’s take a closer look at the different ways this technology works, and how it’s helping.

1. Powering ‘digital-first’ challengers. There’s a necessary trend emerging among retailers globally – move to digital-led offerings, or risk losing out. This now goes beyond competing with the retail goliaths like Amazon and Alibaba, and speaks to the change in the business model we’ve seen companies having to adopt over the past few months. Digital natives like Gymshark understand the power and need for seamless backend operations to fuel customer experience, and a large part of this technology is powered through location tech like address verification which confirms individuals’ details, verifies their identities, and ensures orders get to their destinations with minimal disruption to the consumer. Many retailers committing to a digital-led business in the post-COVID era are learning from these brands in order to scale at speed and provide goods and services to the masses, quickly.

2. Reaching anyone, anywhere. The ability of retail brands like Boohoo to get products to customers quickly and efficiently is crucial to business success. Integrating addresses and location data across 100+ countries means customers can check out faster, confirm delivery details, and make sure that products are shipped to wherever they may be. Taking this one step further, we’re also seeing new technology developed by last-mile experts like what3words, which is ensuring that people anywhere can receive goods and services. This has been a game-changer with regard to contactless deliveries, as drivers are able to leave parcels or food orders at a designated spot with no confusion.

3. Optimising revenue. Failed deliveries across the UK, US, and Germany cost an average of $17.78, which can add up. Particularly now, when people are ordering more offline than ever before, it’s crucial that businesses put efficient processes in place, not only to reduce the cost of redelivery, but to make sure their technology is working accurately and appropriately. Location tech not only streamlines and improves speed-of-delivery but also has impacts on other aspects of online fulfilment: updates on parcel location, flexibility on delivery location changes, contactless delivery options, etc.

4. Powering personalisation. Using location data to provide customised, regionally specific customer journeys is crucial to a seamless consumer experience. ASOS is doing this by providing its ‘rest of world’ and ‘rest of Europe’ sites, and is working to roll out more specifically across 200 markets for customers in other territories. And this personalisation is not only updating things like what’s available in the region but also updates language and currency automatically so customers can get to what they want most, faster.

5. Futureproofing. As the digital economy continues to stabilise and evolve, challenges will remain and global issues will invariably have an impact. For consumers, returning to normal continues to be a daunting task. Despite shops opening in June, many remain wary of browsing on the high street, and will continue turning to their mobile devices to purchase what they need. As the pace of today’s digital economy continues accelerating, the demand for online services, speedy delivery, and frictionless experiences become the norm, and new location-based technology can hold the key to many brands who are looking to move online or improve their offering.

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