With the retail going digital and the digital media coming to retail, we cannot predict any single technological breakthrough to last forever. The most convenient discovery of any time replaces its predecessor.
Beacons are a new adjunct to the digital marketing domain. They are small, Bluetooth low-energy devices that transmit uniquely identifiable signals to compatible smartphones apps. These apps then display contextual messages to customers.
This intelligent technology has enabled brick-and-mortar businesses to restore their fading customer count. Beacons are a cost-effective marketing technique that fall in the realm of location-based marketing. Here, the marketing broadcasts are limited to a specific geographic range of approximately 50 meters.
Retailers can set up these devices in-store to deliver product-related notifications to customers browsing the physical store. Web analytics can further improve the experience by delivering customer’s frequency of visit and browsing history so that beacons can send relevant offers based on past shopping behavior.
Consumer insight is beneficial for increasing sales, for instance, which two products need to be clubbed to create more saleable offers can be found based on shopping behavior and detail high selling products.
Apart from marketing, this technology can also be applied to routine life activities like tracking assets and other devices. For example, you can configure alerts from the device as the object moves out of a set boundary and take timely action.
Beacons offer utility and value to marketers by making right business propositions at the right time and place. Altogether revolutionizing the retail experience by offering greetings, providing coupons and discount offers, upselling products and services, enabling payment services and many more.
Bluetooth SMART has been integrated by many smartphone manufacturers in Australia.
Big data analytics create a more relevant and personalized marketing experience. Stores can study traffic patterns and optimize this data for more relevant experience.
For example, an apparel brand prominently displays their women’s collection, but studying the visit pattern they realize men are more frequent visitors to their store than women and can alter their display arrangement.
This data can help store managers to experiment with their product display and examine customer response. And this also accounts for a comparatively easy revenue monitoring system i.e., the total number of successful in-app transactions occurring near store location.
It can be used for gathering store related, product related and service related feedback. And also for reaching out to in-person assistance whenever required. Moreover, it needs to be perceived as an assistant rather than a substitute to in-store sales executives.
And with Facebook’s announcement of adopting this technology, its acceptance is going to increase by leaps and bounds.
Effectiveness of Beacons
While there is one set of people who command this technology, the other set of people disfavor it quoting it as a privacy intervention. However every marketing technique needs to follow a permission-based distribution process, wherein the residing app seeks user permission before integrating with and delivering messages from the transmitter. Unwanted messages simply frustrate the user and lead to debarring of the entire application.
Sending marketing messages to a person sitting in the comforts of their home might not draw them to the point-of-sale. But sending such alerts to a person near a physical store is more fruitful. Highly targeted marketing alerts during in-store purchase considerably improve sales metrics and provides an enhanced buying experience to customers.
You really need to be innovative when it comes to adopting trending technologies, much as what you adopt, how you adopt determines the outcome. As of now beacons integrate with the App Layer to deliver messages.
Samsung has gone an extra mile by developing a Samsung Placedge Platform whereby the device wouldn’t require any app to detect a beacon, instead the entire beacon communication will be device dependent.
Design Considerations & Beacon App Design Fundamentals
For mobile apps, usability and smooth rendering have always been the top priority. But with beacons entering the sphere app designers are compelled to develop beacon enabled apps. The major design essential for these apps is the proximity sensing abilities. Beacons can be termed as ‘indoor GPS devices’ for issuing more targeted alert notifications within a geographic boundary.
Beacon Industry Applications
Retail businesses are the first adopters - to raise their commercial profits. Apart from them there are some more potential suitors that can benefit from the latest
1. Sports Stadium
Venues where big gatherings occur, especially stadiums, hold veritable potential for location-based marketing. In major sports stadiums where international competitions take place a huge crowd gathers. Such events happen to be a major trade season for catering businesses. But managing order requisition of a big crowd is a complex task involving many salesmen, point-of-sale counters, order managers, etc.
Beacons installed in seats communicate with mobile devices. Customers can book their order request or call a sales executive through their app. The app informs the point-of-contact with your seat location and details.
Apart from providing simple ordering facility these beacons can also be used to deliver special offers from all the existing retailers and their location, an integrated map can further enhance the experience.
2. Travel Industry
Cabs in UK are a live example of iBeacon implementation in the travel industry. Beacons are installed within cabs so that customers receive marketing alerts during their journey, which on an average lasts for around 20 mins. Studies have established—90 percent of the people who travel in cabs in UK have smartphones and tablets along with high personal incomes and, therefore, these customers have a higher potential of engaging in promotional offers.
Marketing alerts have recorded transactions through apps during a customer’s in-cab time frame. Proximity marketing company Proxama’s network covers major transport facilities across London, and therefore, the capital outreach is enormous for app based marketing.
3. Real Estate
Lots of properties are on-sale in the neighborhood which we fail to notice owing to our hectic schedules. Receiving smartphone alerts about them through proximity sensing beacons would be extremely helpful.
Proximity devices save time of both the buyer and the seller by breaking the so-called ‘ice’ in a trade meeting. This device setup functions in two ways, providing visitor details to the dealer with their frequency of visits and provide property and dealer information to the prospective buyer.
The beacon devices installed at the entrance would prompt visitors and passersby to register via the app and receive property related notifications, like history and evaluation, virtual property tours and allow buyers submit their feedback.
4. Restaurants and Food Industry
From effective grocery selling to creating pleasant dining experience, beacon technology seems to conform well with the food industry on the whole. Passersby can be notified of promotional offers and your restaurant’s dish of the week.
- Provide order in advance feature to busy customers saving their waiting time
- Allow your customers to book their table through the app
- Update them with offers on their favorite items and special events
- And finally enable mobile payments
Isn’t it like a dream come true of a cashless world? The essence of this tech is a quick service attributed by digital assistance.
A restaurant in Tokyo has beacons installed on all the tables and as a customer places his mobile near it, the app displays the menu with user reviews (being linked to social sites). After the meal, customers can make their payments through the app and simply walk out.
Most importantly for beacons to function, it requires the brand’s app to be installed in your device. It’s like—you receive usage alerts from the telecom operator you have been registered with and not others.