What is Beacon Technology?
Although you are probably familiar with the traditional use of beacons, lighthouses, police car lights, flares, you may not have heard of beacon technology. Imagine replacing a lighthouse with a small computer that analyzes your digital presence to determine where you're navigating to and proceeds to guide you in that direction, while offering you pit-stops along the way that reflect your interests. This is beacon technology, a physical hub issuing contextual notifications to mobile users within the vicinity.
When Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons were first introduced, retailers were among the first to jump on board. Soon after, marketers are all kind realized they could leverage beacon technology and other Location-Based Services (LBS) to help them track how customers behave in stores and guide them into doing certain actions.
Beacons range in size and signal strength. In most cases, they are small devices that can be placed on the walls of stores, both inside and out. The signal they produce travels one-way to nearby mobile devices, transmitting relevant information and targeted messages to likely patrons.
A beacon can detect the position of a customer in a store and send coupons to their mobile device for the specific product they may be looking at. If the customer has the store's app on their device, the beacon can also send special offers for items they may have been eyeing in-store. In some settings, they have even been placed inside mannequins in window displays to encourage passersby to enter.
Retail Beacons Will Revolutionize How We Sell to Consumers
Ultimately, beacons give marketers the advantage of tracking a shopper's behavior and they can utilize this invaluable information to identify if they need to make changes to the store layout or merchandise flow displays, as well as offer loyal clients customized offers and discounts. Additionally, retailers can observe the activity of their staff to ensure the store is being maintained and operated according to industry standards.
In giving marketers the ability to control brand interaction, beacon control opens new doors for consumer loyalty campaigns. What this means is that retailers finally have a means of manipulating in-store experience outside of customer service and product offerings. By installing beacons, brands can move with the consumer, navigating them through the sales funnel and increasing the speed of a ball that was already rolling. This is a far less intrusive form of marketing because it only substantiates the consumer's pre-existing interests.
The best part of beacons is their flexibility. Yes, some beacons have fixed locality, but their data flow is a dynamic force and marketers can alter this information to reflect the campaign of their choosing. In other words, beacons will evolve alongside your marketing campaigns and company objectives. This technology can be applied to retail fronts of all sizes, aiding brick and mortar locations in the pursuit of consumer sales.
For the consumer, beacon technology offers an unparalleled buying experience. Consumers receive department-specific suggestions and special offers delivered to them via Bluetooth. As the move through the store, they are confronted with a wave of highly relevant, highly personalized brand interactions. These are some of the ways retailers are leveraging beacon technology:
1)Increasing Probability of Additional Purchases
Beacons capitalize on a market most other marketing and sales ploys cannot, proximity marketing. These compact, Bluetooth transmitting computers are spatially aware and capable of detecting human activity nearby. When they are triggered, beacons execute a series of coded actions. These actions are determined by the context of the interaction with the consumer.
If the consumer was recently browsing for a certain product on a mobile commerce app the beacon will issue a series of offers the consumer would find most relevant. By achieving a deeper level of brand saturation, beacons encourage additional purchases outside of the consumer's original intentions. Consumers are suddenly bombarded by a series of offers relative to their previous purchases or the items in close proximity to them.
2)Unearthing New Business Intelligence
It never hurts to learn more about your target market so that you can evolve your outreach campaigns accordingly. Beacons deliver useful insights into consumer behavior, connecting the dots between purchases, regions, and demographics. They also show how consumers are responding to ad campaigns and retail products in real-time, allowing the retailer to gauge the effectiveness of their current branding initiatives.
Beacons answer a range of questions conventional marketing methods leave us fumbling over: How do consumers respond to impromptu offers? What displays are ineffective? Which product lines are consumers interacting with most aggressively? Answering these questions gives retailers the opportunity to zero in on what works and then adjust the model to apply in other contexts.
Through beacon technology, retailers obtain a surplus of consumer data. With the right reporting modules and analytics, they can turn around and apply the data in a variety of ways. The most impactful use is applying the data to compile consumer profiles, further customizing the experience for each buyer.
3)Engaging With Consumers
Beacon technology supports the increasingly popular onmi-channel model of commerce. Omni-channel represents a unified consumer climate, merging all B2C channels to simulate a cohesive brand experience. Essentially, retailers expand the interconnectivity of their system, easing the mobile to in-store transition and encouraging mobile interactions from in-store customers.
When we increase engagement points, we inevitably increase brand interactions. When leveraging an onmi-channel system we have ultimate control over those interactions, ensuring that they adhere to the company's image. Beacons keep the retailer-to-consumer dialogue going by engaging with consumers through apps they have already downloaded to their devices or prompting them to download the apps as they pass by. For consumers who have already downloaded the app, the beacon coordinates offers according to items they have shown interest in and their buying history.
Personalization has become paramount to a successful consumer engagement model. Buyers desire an experience beyond the product, a seamless and frictionless selection-to-checkout experience. Beacons ease this transition through personalized collateral, giving the customer the unique experience they are looking for and fostering a relationship between the brand and the consumer.
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