It’s simply amazing how much technology has evolved. Every day, IT people come up with some great technologies, specially designed to make our lives easier. Beacon technology is one of them. The insane number of people that are using smartphones, was thought as an opportunity for retailers to be in close proximity to their customers.
What Are Beacons and How Do They Work?
[ Photo credits: Alpha’s Flickr ]
Beacons are a small piece of hardware that are low-cost, and small enough to be attached to a wall or countertop. These devices are user-friendly and they use low-energy Bluetooth connections in order to send messages or notifications on a smartphone or tablet. We know for a fact that in some locations a phone signal isn’t always the best. This is were beacon technology comes in handy.
This technology works as long as a person is 70 meters away from a beacon device. For example, if you are in a store, it can locate exactly where you are and send specific information to your phone. The beacon technology developed as a response to the lack of GPS and Wi-Fi signals indoors.
Think about this scenario: you go to the store, you are in the beauty section, turn on your Bluetooth, and there it is! A personalized list of great deals pops up on your smartphone’s screen. Or you go out to your favorite bar and you don’t have to worry about the fact that you forgot to pay. You can easily do that on your phone. It sounds so easy because it actually is possible.
Phones connected and communicating with each other are a fact. You can place the beacon device in your store, on your bar, in the bus station, near places like the opera, or the theater. In fact, any location that can be a great place from which potential customers can receive messages, should be an opportunity for beacon users.
Even though we think that our phones are “smart”, they aren’t necessarily perfect. Steve Cheney says that they are missing “sight” comparing smartphones with people that are keeping their eyes closed. He also says that the beacon technology acts like a road sign, allowing the phone to collect data, such as where the person is at and what he’s doing.
Keep in mind that you still need to secure your beacon device, no matter where you decide to put it. Even though the price for a beacon is not high, shortly it will drop even lower. Also, the investment is not in the product itself, but in the expanding networking services.
Why Should I Use Beacon Technology?
With more and more types of products to choose from, the customer has to be focused towards the things he needs. Mind-reading is impossible, so what’s left to do?
Understanding how much people use their phone during the time they spend in a store, is essential for figuring out whether beacon technology is worth implementing or not.
This infographic shows you exactly why beacons are great, especially for retailers, or people interested or working in the field of marketing. Statistics show that 85% of smartphone users have used apps related to shopping, while in a physical store. 66% of them said they were influenced by the app to buy items.
The same infographic revealed the fact that smartphone users are open to beacon technology. The chances are that people are most likely to make a purchase if notifications are sent to their phone while they are in the store.
For example, I would find it much easier to just receive on my phone what deals the store has while I’m actually in the store. It’s much more efficient this way, and many people find this helpful too.
Improving Customer Experience With the Beacon Technology
Beacon technology will give great insight into the customers’ purchase experience. Retailers will be able to gather information that will help them optimize the customers’ overall time spent in the store. Other than that, loyalty is another aspect that can contribute to building a relationship between them. Past purchases or preferences can be saved, and next time the customer visits the store, he will be sent messages strictly designed for him and his interests.
We all know that customer service can sometimes be a real pain. Imagine what it would be like if, as soon as the employee sees you, he will know who you are, and what you are most likely to purchase. Kind of weird, right? Well, using the information the beacon devices provide, this will probably be the trend for retail in the near future.
Large enterprises, such as Tesco, are already using beacon technology. They use it to improve customer service, and also to personalize the customers’ shopping experience. Rob Murphy, VP of Marketing at Swirl Networks, said that relevance and value are the main features that should be a guide for the successful use of beacon technology.
The main advantage of this technology, is that it does not use much of the phone’s battery, which we all know is a big issue when it comes to these devices. It can be a great alternative to Wi-Fi, that has the notable disadvantage of using up the battery really quickly.
The only thing with this high technology, is that it needs attention and thought in regards to the ways it should be applied. Its value is priceless. Think about your business, the ways beacon technology can make it better, and also how you’re going to measure your company’s success. Gather data from multiple sources in order to determine its success. From time to time, check to see whether your initiative meets the objectives you came up with.
Now that you know what beacon technology is, how you can use it, and why you should use it in your marketing strategy, it’s time to take action! Is your business suitable for this type of practice? If the answer is yes, then my job here is done. Go ahead and make it count.