This week’s [retail bytes] explores: How have technology and our beloved apps impacted the importance of location in retail?

Be there or be Foursquared: Shops need to not just be Pokéstops: they also need to be near a hot spot to get the right footfall. Fifty million users are “checking-in” daily on Foursquare, signalling their location and how far they are from a nearby pub or store. Some 1.3 million users have even opted in for leaving their location permanently ON while they mooch around the high street. Why would anyone wish to waste precious battery power to share their location with an advertising company? The answer is in the deals, as bargain hunters can now get discounts on local food or store merchandise streamed down into their phones as they are passing by their local shop.

The big (Uber) brother: For those who prefer to shop online rather than face polluted city streets, there may be a new temptation to face the great outdoors, as Uber is offering customers who use its UberX service the use of 50 electric cars. Oxford Street is regularly breaching European safe pollution limits so the timing is right to help the high street and the West End turn your visit into a clean-air experience. Uber has an overwhelming advantage over Foursqure in terms of knowing where potential customers actually are at any given time, so it may take on its rivals to compete for the provision of deal notifications during your next shopping trip. Let the battle for the high street commence!

Shop for the Queen: Using beacon-led notifications of mobile content in-store increases the chances of you picking up the mentioned item by 19x, according to a recent study. So why has the Regent Street app only generated a fraction of that amount for its 130 retailers? The answer is in silos dividing the store staff from the digital Marketing staff, as it is head office who decide what’s on the app. The app has great UX (kudos to AutoGraph who created it) but the offers are rarely in context, as only Gaucho and Occitane have time-based and personalised deals. The Electro Brunch at Gaucho was a great value, tasted 5-star and the much-needed Bloody Mary was just what the doctor ordered for our post-Carnival hangover. These are glimpses of what iBeacons can deliver to the high street, the rest of the retailers need to pull their socks up.

Google goes full 3D: On a recent insight project for a Dutch fashion retailer soon opening a store in London we discovered the delights of Google 3D map view. Despite the [retail bytes] team having 90 years of Soho experience between us, 3D view has produced delightful discoveries of new courtyards, nooks and crannies behind the old familiar facades, as well as fleshed out the undervalued areas hidden from view but only metres away from the main thoroughfares. Compared to Amsterdam, where only a semi-3D view is available, London’s full 3D view provides a lot more detailed information for anyone who needs to understand how the footfall really flows, although obviously a lot of it is ‘modelled’ rather than real. Mappiness is happiness, as London is allowing more intimate close-ups of itself to visitors and retailers alike, helping to open up more available but hidden/undervalued space. Considering we found a lot of flat roofs not being utilised, I can feel a Grow London campaign coming!

Launch looms for the Loons: Reaching out for the sky is not only the solution of choice for the London skyline. Our special [retail bytes] agent in Sri Lanka is reporting the country’s e-commerce is about to go into a hyper gear as the Google Loon hi-speed broadband via balloons is going live in September. Increasing the coverage from 38% to nearly 100% using just 15 balloons, Google is piloting their new, cheapish way of delivering broadband to potential customers from up above the clouds. These high-flying solar powered mobile cell towers are Sri Lanka’s ticket to the 21st century. For a country that produces Beyoncé’s Ivy Park activewear brand, Speedo and Nike’s best fitness-wear and is making waves on the wearable fashion innovation circuit, this is just the beginning of a very exciting adventure for Sri Lanka. Congrats to all for piecing it together!

Don’t miss this new Arup exhibition – get inspired by how man-made structures can be more awesome than nature. The Sydney Opera House still rocks, as do other wild Arup creations. Who will be the next urban structures pioneer?

Fashion Week: Mark your diaries for the Topshop launch of Unique on September 18th, as the brand brings a Runway-to-Retail format to its young fans.