The Brave New World of Beacon Technology and Redefining Customer Engagement

Bluetooth Low Energy or Bluetooth Beacons are touted as the hot new multichannel devices that are revolutionizing the way businesses enhance engagement among mobile consumers; and since Smartphones are ubiquitous this means ‘all consumers’.

BLE has met with considerable success and popularity in the retail industry since its roll out last year with prominent use cases such as Macy’s revamped in-store experience with Shopkick  and Apple’s launch of iBeacons in all of its 254 domestic U.S. stores

 

What is Bluetooth Low Energy or Beacon?

Beacon or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is in principle the next generation of targeted positioning system. It is a beacon that transmits a signal to a Bluetooth Smart Ready (BSR) device up to 50 meters away. Typically the receiver is a Smartphone or tablet. The beacon’s signal is detected by an app on the users mobile device aimed at triggers the desired reaction from the end user.

According to research commissioned by Google , 84 percent of Smartphone shoppers use their mobile devices to help them shop while in a physical retail store.  With BLE, retailers can now understand the precise location of a shopper within a store and provide messages, content that transforms his device into indispensable in-store shopping companion that delivers incredibly relevant and timely digital content. With over 400 million smart devices activated worldwide with this technology, BLE is already here. Some of the possible scenarios include:

  • A user researching products online and then when in-store, being guided to these quickly and easily.
  • A customer being able to access detailed information, videos and specifications about a product.
  • Easy in-store or in-centre navigation on the map and turn-by-turn directions.
  • Finding help – if store staff has activated beacon deployed devices he can easily be put on a map, along with areas of specialization so customers can find him.

 Use of Beacon Technology beyond Retail 2.0

Events: Events businesses have started using the technology to integrate mobile-local marketing. Major sports franchises (including NBA and MLB) have been adopting beacons in stadiums.

Travel: Beacons at airports and ground transit hubs can notify on departures, delays and gate and platform assignments instantly to passenger phones.

Property management: Luxury apartments and condominiums can take advantage of beacons to provide a unique and engaging tenant experience. Also when units become available, beacons can send alerts, pictures, information and schedule a viewing.

Dining: Beacons would empower staff to better serve their customers by knowing their preferences and special requests without they having to restate it during every visit.

Media: Traditional and new media properties can use beacons in cafés, waiting rooms and lobbies to provide full or partial access to a broad audience.

Gas stations: Beacons could alert drivers of specials to tempt them into a particular station and facilitate contactless payments.

Beacon@Home:  A company called ‘Placed’ is creating an app that uses the beacon to help run the consumer home.

The biggest hurdle is perhaps to motivate users to activate Bluetooth, ensure they have downloaded the app and provided permissions for location tracking. This means that Business will need a clear cut ‘What’s in it for Me’ strategy for the consumers. The ‘Big data’ implications are also interesting – as most businesses are already struggling to extract the most of existing information.

We at Srishti Innovative believe that Beacon technology will significantly enhance the customer journey – from discovery and research to payment and reviews – and we will see savvy marketers bringing beacons into their physical environments.  BLE is here to stay and is possible one of the most exciting technologies to watch for in 2014.

 

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