How retailers can effectively implement beacon technology

By Jonathan Hassell

| Retail

You may have heard of the rise of beacons and the advent of proximity marketing, but as a retailer, how can you utilize beacon technology and work beacons into your mobile strategy? How do these new advancements and emerging technologies compete with or complement the use of mobile devices for consumers?

Beacons work in a variety of ways. The most common ones in use today are Bluetooth-based sensors that operate in conjunction with a mobile app that understands which actions to perform when a consumer is close to a beacon near your location and goods. For instance, Macy’s uses such a technology to provide discounts, rewards and recommendations to customers, even going so far as offering special department-specific deals that pop up when a consumer walks into that area of the store.

These technologies are currently helping retailers and shoppers in several ways:

Beacons provide a more interactive experience for shoppers

Smartphones and tablets have become necessary accessories to daily life, leading to a dramatic decline in people’s attention spans. Many people tend to engage with their devices when they have downtime — and shoppers walking around the mall with their eyes glued to their phone is all the proof you need.

Retailers have noticed this trend, too. Beacons provide a way to bring the shopping experience right to a device to break that device-eyeball contact and direct the shopper to whatever the store has decided to showcase. Additionally, beacon technology allows stores to pep up sales in a department that might otherwise be struggling to attract or retain foot traffic. Because beacons work on such a small footprint, retailers can clearly define an area of the store and limit a discount or other deal to just that region.

Beacons provide intelligent, real-time feedback to store managers and corporate business planners

Not only do businesses gain accurate information about the number of people in their stores, the routes they take throughout the retail space, where they linger and where they pass right by, but they can also enable intelligent bi-directional communication. For example, stores know exactly when a VIP customer enters and can offer him or her a proper greeting and personally attend to that VIP’s needs. This real-time look at overall numbers, insights into shopper behavior and alerts about customers who deserve some extra attention provide a key use case for beacon technology in retail. Retailers can get all of this from some hardware investment and a well-executed mobile app development project.

It is very clear that mobile devices are here to stay, and retailers who do not try to embrace mobile in some way will not be able to compete. Beacon technology is one method by which retailers can get an inside track on shoppers’ device obsessions while also improving their own understanding of their business.

Written By

Jonathan Hassell

President, 82 Ventures

Jonathan Hassell runs 82 Ventures, a technical writing and consulting firm based in Charlotte, NC. He centers his focus around network administrator, security, the cloud, and mobile technologies.

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