Bringing Home the Beacon

Beacons — everyone is talking about them. But what is the impact of this new technology? The answer is: it’s all about user experience.

The unprecedented rise of location-based technology in the last few years has allowed more and more businesses to experiment and discover use cases for micro location and proximity engagement that were never possible before. New research pegs this at nearly 4.5 million beacons deployed by 2018.

Let’s explore how retailers could potentially utilize beacon technology:
Greeting customers. With mobile beacons, the process of greeting customers as they enter the store becomes virtually automated. By placing a mobile beacon near the entrance, customers unsure whether to enter or not will find themselves attracted to the shopping area, thanks to a short message encouraging them to come inside.

Send customers contextual messages. In large department stores, customers can find themselves lost. With beacons they can always be reminded about their location in the store, and what products to find in specific areas. This has the double advantage of making customers feel more at ease, and potentially encouraging them to purchase more goods.
Broadcast special deals. The implementation of deals and special offers has traditionally been communicated by affixing placards to specific groups of discounted products. This arrangement has the downside of potentially not being noticed by all customers. With beacons, customers can be alerted of the best deals whenever they pass through predetermined areas.
Market segmentation with different apps. With beacons it is much easier to segment customers based on a multitude of criteria. By providing different groups of customers with different mobile apps for the store, certain beacons can be set to trigger different messages for different apps. This could, for instance, alert only the most loyal shoppers about a particularly good deal only available to them.
Redirect to a website. Push notifications with encouraging messages redirecting to store websites can be sent directly to customer smartphones, where they will remain, a single click away.

Keep track of customers. Individual phone signals can be tracked around the store, granting retailers insight into which paths are more frequently taken, which areas are most visited, and how much time is spent looking at specific products.
More than a million beacons were shipped last year and many more are on the way. Based on a new global beacon study from ABI Research within five years, beacon shipments will easily top 400 million. It’s up to all of us to figure the use cases that will put them to work.

Beacons not only deliver more value to the customer, but also empower employees to consistently offer higher service levels. The bottom line is retailers need to jump in and experiment, and make sure to promote location-based alerts with physical or digital signs in-store.  RIS
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