It’s about to get a lot easier to find your way around the largest department store in the country — if you have an iPhone.
Macy’s has added a new feature to its iPhone app that provides indoor turn-by-turn directions for its massive flagship location in New York City’s Herald Square, courtesy of Meridian, the software startup behind an indoor GPS platform.
Meridian announced Thursday that it is making two of its indoor positioning software development kits available to third-party developers, who can use it to build an indoor GPS experience into new or existing apps. Macy’s was one of three businesses to be part of Meridian’s beta test for this effort and the department store chain is the first major retailer to roll out the indoor GPS feature.
“Macy’s is kind of the leader right now in a lot of digital initiatives. They’ve been trying out lots of digital initiatives to engage with shoppers in their homes and in stores,” said Jeff Hardison, VP of Marketing and Business for Meridian, explaining why the startup chose to partner with Macy’s. The goal, he says, is that Macy’s will gradually expand the mapping feature to all or most of its other retail locations in the future.
Since launching last year, Meridian has worked with a handful of prominent institutions to build indoor mapping systems from the ground up, including the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Venetian hotel and casino in Las Vegas. The service uses a unique combination of GPS and WiFi data to pinpoint the precise location of the smartphone user indoors. By opening up its SDK to developers, Meridian should see plenty more locations incorporate this technology.
Both Google and Bing offer indoor maps for airports, malls and other locations, but neither provide turn-by-turn directions or let users locate themselves on the map (aka the glowing blue dot) as one can outdoors with tools like Google Maps. Meridian also goes one step further and can advertise and direct users to specific items at a given location — a potentially powerful tool for retailers like Macy’s.
“Not only will we be able to give shoppers a utility to get around stores and find products, but now we will be able to ask if they want to receive offers based on where they are standing,” Hardison told Mashable. “You can imagine how big that is [for retailers].”
Retail is one of three big sectors that Meridian hopes to grow its technology in going forward. The other two are health care and hospitality, which is why in addition to Macy’s, Meridian’s beta test also included the Miami Children’s Hospital and the Sydney Airport.
Image courtesy of Meridian; thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr, Joe Shlabotnik.