Beacon Technology for Retailers
You must have come across the term Beacon by now. If you have not, you will soon. In the near future, your smartphone is going to enhance your shopping experience by providing real-time updates while you are shopping. They are going to provide you live deals which are happening around you, offers, promotional content, mall navigation, and so on, converging your online and offline digital shopping experience.
What is beacon?
A beacon is a small, cheap piece of electronic hardware that transmits information without requiring wires. It uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to transmit and this helps a beacon to run for a long period on a single battery. It supports iOS and Android devices and this is the reason why we predict its popularity among retailers are going to rise. Information received at the user’s end can be push notifications, messages, or alerts. Retailers aim to use beacons to create a new, interactive shopping experience for their customers. Click on the image below to know how.
- Advertising/Proximity Marketing –
Advertisements can be sent to customers’ devices for marketing and promotions as soon as they enter a particular area, provided they have a supported device. If customer data is available, then tailored, customized advertisements can be promoted.
- Coupons, Deals, Offers –
Customer engagement can be increased by using coupons, deals and offers and promoting them through beacons. As customers enter the range of the beacon which is placed at a convenient location to reach maximum customers, the offers are made available on their phones through which they can redeem them.
- Product Information –
Beacons placed nearby products can emit information about the product. One can use his phone to find information about the product of his interest made readily available to him with the help of the beacon. Shoppers can also compare prices of different products within the store.
- Store Navigation –
Beacons can aid a shopper in navigating around the store by providing directions on their hand-held devices. They are guide the user while browsing between different sections.
- Checkout Beacon –
Contactless payment process can be set up in the store by using a checkout beacon where the user needs to just pay through his device.
- Customer Identification and Data Collection – Customers can be identified and their in-store behaviour, such as time spent in a particular area inside the store, products browsed or added to cart, and more using beacons.
Currently, NFC or Near Frequency Communication is the only technology that coexists with BLE. NFC uses a NFC tag/transmitter that communicates with another NFC enabled smartphone only when the devices are brought very close to it. The NFC tag is small in size, and does not require batteries to run in most cases. In comparison, a standard BLE transmitter can be of the size of a small matchbox and might require new batteries every two years. Still, NFC is constrained by very small range and communicates with only one device a time unlike BLE which can communicate with multiple devices over larger area, limited only by the strength of the signal it transmits. Adoption of NFC is only picking up and this has seen Apple launching the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus with it. Both NFC and BLE can be used by retailers to enhance customers’ in-store experience with a wide range of possibilities.
Beacon technology is still in its nascent stage, but it has high potential in creating a revolution in shopping experience. The downside is that users have to download the application to entail the benefits of the beacons. This, is however a small price for a new, enhanced in-store experience for the customer.