Cartogram View website Google Play

Is this the future of bricks and mortar mall shopping?

Developer description

Cartogram brings detailed knowledge of indoor maps to your smartphone. We have over 10,000 ... More

Editor's review

Published 18 Feb 2016

Retail is a rather sad state of affairs these days, isn't it? The stores seem to be getting bigger and the staff levels seem to be getting smaller. In some of the bigger department stores now it's hard to find a counter to pay at, let alone finding someone to show you where a specific item is on the shelves. I'm sure this suits the owners of the store because they can cut their staffing costs, but it can be a time consuming nightmare for consumers. So maybe it's time for a slightly different approach.

Cartogram is a product location app for Android that delivers detailed indoor store maps of hundreds of retailers that will allow you to search for specific products and show you exactly where they are on the shelves. At the moment they have over 10,000 indoor maps indexed and product searched. To make life even easier, if you are in a mall you can search for a specific product name and the app will search every shop in the building and tell you where you can find the exact item you are looking for.

With the way retail is going at the moment I can only see more and more uses for Cartogram. It seems pretty obvious to me that retailers want to cut costs anywhere they can these days in order to maintain their bottom line. Sadly, cutting down on staff numbers is usually the first place they start. I can see a point in the not so distant future there won't be any floor staff and customers are simply handed a device with an app like Cartogram on it and they can find the stuff they need themselves. Then all they need to do is to take it up to the self-service registers and not encounter any shop assistants at all. Sad, but true.

Cartogram is particularly useful if you are shopping in a mall. I have this pet theory that all of those malls are designed on the blueprint of legendary architect Victor Gruen. His idea was to make malls so huge and so convoluted that you just seemed to go round and round in circles, shopping until you dropped without ever leaving the building. This app circumnavigates that problem by providing the user with a detailed 'turn by turn' to the correct store. You can even share your indoor location, including the floor you are on and the room you are in, with coworkers and friends.

While Cartogram probably isn't the best news for retail staffing levels it's a great thing for both retailers and customers. Canny customers can simply search for the product they are looking for without having to hunt out an overworked salesperson and retailers will benefit because customers will be able to find what they are looking for in an instant and stop losing sales. The app isn't limited to big stores either. Cartogram produces quite beautifully detailed indoor maps that can take you to your next car, the book you were looking for or even the fresh fruit department. I can also see the benefit for things like events and conferences, health clubs, sporting venues and resorts as well as the regular shopping mall. Is this the future of bricks and mortar retail? I think it might be.

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