Beacons – everyone is talking about them. But what is the impact of this new technology? The answer is: it’s all about improving the user experience.
Beacons are Bluetooth-based transmitters that can be used to offer location-based services. Smartphone apps can receive beacon signals and interpret them, expanding the user’s context.
The unprecedented rise of iBeacon technology in the last few years has allowed more and more retailers to experiment and discover use cases for micro location and proximity engagement that were never possible before.
Let’s go through a few possibilities. Here are six ways retailers can utilize beacon technology:
1) Greet Customers
With mobile beacons, the process of greeting customers as they enter a store becomes virtually automated. By placing a mobile beacon near the door, customers who are unsure whether or not to enter will find themselves attracted to the shopping area not solely by the kindness of employees, but figuratively by the store itself, with a short message encouraging them to come inside to take a look around.
2) Send Customers Contextual Messages
In large department stores, customers can find themselves lost and discouraged from purchasing. Thanks to beacons, however, they can be reminded about their location in the store and what products can be found in specific areas. This has the double advantage of making the customer feel more at ease and further encourages them to purchase more goods.
3) Broadcast Special Deals
The implementation of deals and special offers has traditionally been communicated by affixing signage to specific groups of discounted products. This arrangement can potentially go unnoticed by all customers, especially if the layout of the store isn’t optimized. With beacons, customers can be alerted to deals when they pass through predetermined areas, allowing a more flexible management of the store’s offers.
4) Market Segmentation with Different Apps
Taking this concept one step further, with Bluetooth beacons, it becomes much easier to segment customers based on multiple 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, without bothering the rest of the customer base.
5) Redirect to a Website
Knowing the importance of online purchases and e-commerce, many retail stores nowadays have websites to sell their products. And with beacons, retailers can encourage customers to visit via push notifications direct to mobile featuring encouraging messages. This offers the potential to keep customers shopping, even when at home, and can motivate future in-store trips.
6) Adapt In-store Operations
Accurate customer and store analytics are traditionally difficult to come by, but thanks to well-placed mobile beacons, this operation becomes much simpler. Individual phone signals can be tracked around the store by different beacons, bringing awareness to the paths most frequently taken, which areas are most visited, and how much time is spent looking at specific products. With a greater understanding of shoppers’ in-store behavior, retailers can optimize store layouts, product displays and other operations to maximize conversion potential.
More than a million beacons were shipped last year and now 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 and mobile applications offer retailers new ways to connect with their customers, offering a more personalized, contextually-based shopping experience. They not only deliver more value to the customer but also empower employees with the ability to consistently offer higher service levels.