Why would a retail giant like Amazon be interested in investing in a mapping company? That’s the first question many will ask when they discover the company is reportedly in talks with a consortium of German automakers for a stake in the high definition mapping company HERE. But there are several logical reasons, and they all relate to the huge role mapping and GIS will play in more and more businesses over the next decade.
Unlike other tech giants Apple and Google, Amazon is not (as far as we know) entering in the autonomous car market, which seems to be the focus of automakers interest in HERE. The primary motive appears to be money: getting the consortium on board with using Amazon Web Services would be a huge boon to Amazon’s most profitable division to date. It is likely that Amazon has other motives as well, ones that relate to the growing importance of GIS, mapping, and location based services.
Location and relationship are two of the latest marketing buzzwords, and with good reason. Knowing a customer’s location allows a company to tailor messages and offers to that customer, and the smartphone and social media users are sharing that information all the time.
The personalization of information, texts, and offers allows companies to build a better relationship with consumers, therefore solidifying brand loyalty. Mobile payment options offer any business the option to take payments almost anywhere.
Amazon is no exception, and with programs like Prime Now, a one or two hour delivery service available in several cities around the United States, knowing customer location is even more critical.
Even more critical is the logistics of delivery. TImely delivery is turning from a perk to a customer expectation thanks to the Culture of Now, and accurate mapping will aid in two things Amazon is exploring or will be exploring in the next couple of years.
Autonomous Delivery Trucks/Vehicles
It’s no secret that Amazon’s number one cost, especially when it comes to Prime members is delivery. WIth its centers nationwide, developing its own delivery channels rather than relying on FedEx and UPS as it does now makes sense, and faster and saver delivery will be accomplished with autonomous vehicles at some point in the not so distant future.
Its also no secret that Amazon has been exploring the use of drones, and while there are still obstacles on the regulation front, from the FAA to the FCC, before long delivery and other forms of drones will be criss crossing our skies. The easiest ways to guide these drones? Autonomously, and using a signal from the location of the customer’s phone to establish its final destination.
It may seem odd that autonomous delivery and locationless businesses can actually increase customer engagement and loyalty, but reaching customers where they live, even if it is from a distance alters their perception.
High definition mapping has a ton of business potential, so it shouldn’t shock us when Amazon, or any other company for that matter, makes a significant investment in mapping technology
Troy Lambert is a freelance writer, editor, and non-profit consultant by day, and a suspense thriller author by night. He learned about the power of GIS while working as a researcher at a museum, and is always looking for ways to apply this technology and big data in new and innovative ways. Troy is an avid cyclist, skier, and hiker. He lives, works, and plays in Boise, Idaho. His work can be found at troylambertwrites.com, and you can connect with him on Twitter @tlambertwrites.