How to drive in-store experiences with the new Android Pie update

From more emojis to maximum efficiency for users, how can Android Pie help retailers to smarten their physical shopping experiences, as well as their ecommerce journeys?

I’m too busy! Tell me everything I need to know.’

If you prefer a skim read, here’s an overview of the new features you can make the most of in your marketing efforts. Next, we’ll get into the finer details and show you how you can use these features to add value to your customers’ in-store experiences:

What is Android Pie?

Android Pie or Android 9 is the new operating system update for Android that is set to take over Android Oreo. It’s a feature-packed update that must have had the Google offices covered in mind maps and sticky notes for quite some time.

With customer experience and efficiency at its core, it’s time to see what this new update can do for you.

Why should I care about the Android Pie update?

Take a look at these statistics. They were collected by HRC who polled 2900 North American shoppers and found:

  • 95% of shoppers want to be left alone in store and only want to see an assistant if they need help
  • 85% said they’d prefer to check the prices of items themselves rather than asking an assistant
  • 65% of shoppers said it was important to them to be able to order online and then pick up in store, especially with technology and apparel

The key takeaway from these figures is that consumers value their in-store experiences, but they want those experiences to match up with their digital expectations.

Let’s take a look at how you can leverage Android Pie to help you achieve the rest.

Is Android Pie for me?

Who doesn’t love Pie? Joking aside, it doesn’t matter if you’re a bricks and mortar store, an e-commerce venture, or both, Android Pie has something for everyone.

With this release you’ll be able to get in front of your customers faster, right where and when they need you.

What if you could surface relevant content via notifications to your customers when they’re close to your store? Even if it’s inside a mall, without a beacon? What if you knew your app notifications could allow replies right from the notification screen? With Pie these are just a few of the tasty fillings you can expect. (Sorry)!

Some retail marketers are already taking advantage of mobile technology similar to this. Lowe’s for instance have started using augmented reality (AR) technology delivered via a mobile app to help customers navigate its huge stores.

With Android Pie this is something you’ll be able to achieve through more precise location data. For instance, you could allow customers to search your store and find items based on their location. Or you could offer different deals, tips, and advice via your app based on where your customer is in the store.

There’s no doubt that consumers are looking for more seamless integrations of tech and real world experiences, and with this new Android update, there’s no reason for you not to have a slice of the customer experience Pie.

Android Pie – filling deep dive

Now you know what we’re dealing with, let’s see exactly how these features can improve .  the real world and mobile shopping experiences your customers have with you.

In-store Positioning and targeting

In Pie, Wi-Fi round-trip time has been added which allows for more specific positioning through Wi-Fi. That means positioning inside, like in Malls, is about to get more specific. This is huge for retail marketers who were previously using beacons for instore behavioral tracking and monitoring, which aren’t so precise – and are more time-consuming to maintain. The introduction of this tiny feature means your in-store targeting can get a lot more personal., Within-a-few-feet kind of personal.

While this is great, individual app location permissions still apply, so you’ll need your customers to give your app location permissions for this to work.


How can it be used in retail marketing?

Imagine providing a map to customers of your store layout, or allowing them to search the store for products and then locate them on your in-store map right from their phones, just like Walmart did.

There are already a lot of great ways to use location-based marketing to drive in-store experiences, but with Android Pie these kind of features become far more accessible to retail marketers.

Stay front of mind for your customer

With App Actions Android Pie uses Machine Learning to figure out which apps you’re likely to use next. The new user interface makes it easier for users to see apps they use a lot and will serve apps to customers based on their habits, interactions and intents. If you use a specific app at 4pm every day, you can guarantee Android will put that app front and center at 4pm.


How can it be used in retail marketing?

App Actions are a great way to keep your existing customers engaged and your brand front of mind. Daily app check during events, for instance, would help keep your app front and center for customers every day.

There’s a case to be made now for encouraging habitual behavior from your customers. The great thing about App Actions is that it can also help you target new customers or app users. When designing your app, you can use semantic intents to define the app’s content. This means that you can give your app meaning based on what your users would use it for. This is the same way that home assistants like Google Home and Alexa serve up information to answer voice queries. These semantic intents will give Android Pie the data it needs to suggest your app to people who will use it.

App actions can also suggest a mobile app to a customer at a time when it’s most relevant. If you’ve just launched a new app, and a customer visits your store, App actions will suggest your app as being relevant right there at the shelf edge.

New ways to communicate with the customer

With Android Pie, mobile notifications have now become rich notifications. That means you can see pictures and other attached content right from the notification screen. If you’ve been using gmail, which is a pretty safe bet unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, the smart replies feature you’re used to seeing is now coming to notifications. This means you can see the message and the media and reply from your notification screen with one click. That’s one smart update.


How can it be used in retail marketing?

Rich Mobile notifications will allow you to have real-time conversations with your customers based on what they’re doing in the real world, getting them what they need faster. You could send pictures of your new products to prospects and invite them to the store to try them out, maybe the customer can reserve one of your new products via a smart reply in their notifications.

Rich notifications will remove all those barriers and extra clicks that got in the way when we didn’t have them. It’s time to start looking at notifications as the new channel of communication. These types of notifications should also allow for mobile retargeting, meaning you can reach people you know have visited your store and not bought anything. They could also make huge shopping events like Black Friday and Christmas more bearable for everyone involved.

Market to your prospects, right in the web search results, via your app

App Slices (yep we got the pun too!) are starting in Google’s search results – naturally. The idea is that when you search google on a mobile, ‘slices’ of the phone’s apps can be served as search results.

There are plans to extend the appearance of app slices to beyond search, and Google have confirmed these slices will be able to target users all the way back to Kitkat, meaning they will be available on 95% of active Android devices, so it’s a great opportunity to get it right before they start to appear everywhere.


How can it be used in retail marketing?

Here are three examples that will open your eyes to App Actions:

  1. A customer searches Google on their mobile for take-out. They have Deliveroo installed on their phone. When the search results come up, they see a slice of the Deliveroo app showing their usual restaurant is giving a 30% discount. They can order their favourite take-out from that restaurant right there in the search results.
  2. If you search for an address, your regular ride hailing app might suggest how much it costs and allow you to book your cab… right there in the search results.
  3. If a customer is searching online for a hotel they use all the time (and they have the app) they might be able to see the cost and availability of rooms and any special offers – say it with me – right in the search results.

This is one very smart way that savvy retail marketers can get in front of customers right when they need it. The tools for building app slices are already available in Android Jetpack.

Traditionally retail marketers who use technology to engage with customers have struggled to connect in-app digital actions with a store visit, this piece of the Android Pie makes closing that gap so much easier.


Android Pie Warnings

Having new features to play with is great, but Google wouldn’t be Google without penalties for not playing by the rules. Ask any digital marketer and they’ll tell you half their time is spent keeping the search engines happy. Here are the pitfalls to avoid when updating or developing your Android Pie apps.

Android’s AI features help it use less battery by letting users see which apps are running in the background and which ones request excessive wakeups. The user can then restrict the app essentially blocking it’s notifications and network access. Developers will have to put in the work to make sure Apps are not affected.

The new operating system restricts access to sensors like the microphone or camera when the app is running in the background, or if it’s idle (other than GPS). If an app needs to access a sensor while idle or running in the background, the system will display a persistent notification. This could mean many uninstalls for apps that continually need the sensors when idle.

Google have updated the Android Vitals dashboard in Google Play Console with new tools and metrics. These will help developers and marketers keep on top of the new rules and easily play by them.

When can we have Android Pie?

The Android Pie update is being rolled out slowly, with only these partners getting to test the beta version:

  • Pixel
  • Essential
  • Nokia
  • Oppo
  • Sony
  • Vivo
  • Xiaomi

So now is the perfect time to start preparing for your own customer experience revolution. With a whole new suite of mobile tools and technological advancements at your fingertips, the retail world is yours for the re-imagining.

Now you’re ready for Android Pie, find out about the latest Apple iOS update – It has way fewer bad pie puns.

How will you use Android Pie to drive more meaningful retail experiences? Let us know in the comments.

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