GeoFencing Technology’s Virtual ‘Circle of Trust’

Deepak Halan is associate professor at School of Management Sciences, Apeejay Stya University

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One of the most common ways is to send special offers to customers when they walk or drive near a business location. For example, if you run a pizza shop and want to promote a new variety of pizza, you send out a geofence message inviting people to come in and taste the new recipe with a bottle of Coke. Or if you run a gym and want to launch a new health event or programme such as “Burn your belly fat,” geofence messages can be used to alert users and invite them to join the programme.

Geofencing in marketing
Fig. 4: Geofencing in marketing (Source: https://blog.beaconstac.com)

Thus geofence makes push notifications popular by making the mobile messaging timely, relevant and inordinate for customer engagement.

A message announcing a coupon pops up on the mobile screen via geofencing
Fig. 5: A message announcing a coupon pops up on the mobile screen via geofencing (Source: www.hongkiat.com)

Geofence technology provides precision customer targeting with genuine, personalised messages. It provides multi-channel businesses an opportunity to interact with nearby customers through mobile devices, split-test customer engagement at every level and gain a deeper understanding of customers’ desires. It is a powerful tool to connect with new customers looking for your product as well as existing customers present in the area. Thus geofencing enables brick-and-mortar expansion of businesses.

Imagine you enter an area covered by geofence and are running a geofence app on your mobile device. You are looking for a good pair of wireless headphones and hence key-in some relevant search words such as wireless headphones. Within seconds you receive a message or notification and ads for in-store purchase of wireless headphones. You like the headphones, find the offer attractive and walk into the store to purchase the same.

The fenced area could be as big as one km radius or just the walking distance in a mall. In rural areas, geofence is likely to cover a much wider area, given the lower population density.

The fence coordinates are hard-coded into the app. The app users get trigger notifications as they enter or exit the geofence area. The apps use various technologies to spot the change of location, most of which are generally Wi-Fi based.

Geofences are created using mapping software, which allow drawing of the geofence over the desired area using latitude and longitude coordinates or, in case of a circular geofence, a single point that forms the centre. The data can be obtained via a wireless connection, RFID and even GPS. A geofence has a fixed location and the object using GPS (a vehicle, equipment or person) is generally moving or is movable.

For a GPS-tracked object to work with a geofence, the following conditions need to be met:

1. Creation of a geofence using mapping/fleet management software

2. Ability of the GPS-tracked object to report its position (latitude/longitude) to the used software

3. Association of the tracked object with the mapping software

4. Establishment of a rule that triggers an alert when the tracked object enters (or leaves) the geofenced area

To avoid the problem of unnecessary multiple SMS being triggered just at geofencing border, often a buffer area is created around the geofencing border—say, 10 metres more in radius. When a user exits the geofencing border, an SMS is triggered. However, when the user enters the geofencing area and again exits, SMS is triggered only when the user travels the full 10 metres of buffer area within the geofencing boundary and then exits.
Also, one needs to be careful when using geofence for advertisement. Some people are likely to regard location tracking as something that bothers them and infringes on their privacy.

When integrated with CRM, geofence helps to collect useful data. You can add value to your app and your business as you are able to come up with something timely, relevant and useful. Your geofence messages are likely to improve your customers’ experience and not flagged as spams.

Other applications

Geofences can also be used to keep an eye on things (know if a vehicle or piece of equipment is removed from your yard) or to keep things out (for example, to keep vehicles out of a restricted area, or to keep mining workers out of an area where explosives are being used). Today, it is not easy to manage on-the-ground workforce. However, it can be streamlined with the help of route optimisation techniques and map-based real-time tracking.

Geofencing acts as a great facilitator. You can demarcate delivery fences and, by providing your workforce with smartphones, receive notifications every time a delivery goes off-track. Moreover, if delivery packages are equipped with RFID tags, these too can be tracked throughout the delivery process.

In case your business depends on collaborating with other local businesses, a geofence app based interface will make it possible for you to be aware of and communicate with local retailers, delivery warehouses as well as local operators. Thus geofencing facilitates expansion of a centralised business.

A sample of geofencing based report for vehicle identification
Fig. 6: A sample of geofencing based report for vehicle identification (Source: www.randmcnally.com)
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