A Comprehensive Overview of iBeacon Technology
iBeacon is an innovative technology that allows retail merchants to communicate with potential customers through apps running on their smartphones. It offers a potent marketing advantage for brick-and-mortar retail stores and an exceptional shopping experience for the customer.
iBeacon technology works seamlessly with both iOS and Android, two leading mobile platforms. It employs advanced Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) protocol to deliver context-aware and proximity-based messages within retail marketing environment. Communication takes place between a beacon device and a retailer’s app loaded on shopper’s mobile smartphone.
Beacons are conveniently small and simple, a feature which enables retailers to deploy them anywhere in the store. Their programmable range varies from a few inches up to 230 feet. These helpful sales aids utilize traditional batteries and have an anticipated lifespan measured in years.
Walking in the proximity of beacons triggers specific smartphone app functionalities, including lock screen messages. This process enables marketers to transmit instant offers, discounts, product information or offer in-store assistance to shoppers as they enter or move through the retail store. Sending this specific, targeted sales information to prospects at the point of sale ultimately generates higher revenue for the retailer.
Nuts and Bolts Operations of iBeacon Technology
How does iBeacon actually function? New beacon devices firstly need to be positioned to cover strategic locations within the store. When beacons are in place, retailers use a management platform to create useful, highly targeted marketing campaigns.
As a casual shopper enters the area where beacons have been deployed, the customer’s smartphone app with Bluetooth switched on listens for the beacon signal. Receipt of this transmission from a nearby beacon signals delivery of the retailer’s previously designed marketing content. Effectively, an alert reaches forth to notify the shopper about a particular sale or retail offer of interest to that particular individual.
The management console further assists retailers during the targeted marketing campaign by offering customer-engagement insights. For instance, if a particular customer previously indicated a personal preference for purchasing a specific brand of shoes, this information in the management console will enable the retailer to deliver a highly targeted marketing message to the shopper if that type of footwear goes on sale.
iBeacon technology performs an array of exceedingly useful marketing and database collection tasks for retailers. Just consider the utility this innovative tool offers within a typical retail setting:
- Incentivize customers to visit store as they pass in front of the entrance;
- Guide customers to the products they are interested in through interactive maps, informative messages, imagery or video clips;
- Direct a customer’s attention to new products of interest, or to seasonal items that the customer might not find available within the store after a certain deadline passes;
- Offer coupons or other key discounts valid for the duration of a customer’s visit to the store;
- Stimulate customer interest by employing a reward system that allows them to earn points simply by walking in the store or purchasing a specific item;
- Offer personalized loyalty discounts based upon shoppers’ in-store purchase histories;
- Provide detailed product information while the product is in shopper’s hands, assisting the shopper in making an informed decision to complete the sale;
- Enable customer to get assistance at a critical decision-making moment;
- Automate the checkout process to much greater degree, minimizing employee overhead.
Consider the Benefits
Apple’s new iBeacon technology holds a number of distinct advantages for retailers. It encourages shoppers to buy items at brick-and-mortar retail point of purchase, discouraging unhealthy “showrooming” where buyers examine products at brick-and-mortar store and then purchase them on the Internet. Retailers can provide discounts and reward loyal customers immediately by deploying beacons at strategic locations within the store, avoiding the loss of sales to e-commerce merchants.
Additionally, this technology reduces the time sales floor personnel spend selling to shoppers, by automating and personalizing the sales process to a much higher degree. This tool will enable sales representatives to focus on assisting shoppers who specifically request their help or are ready to make the purchase.
The following benefits will rank high among the competitive advantages for retailers who adopt this technology:
- Highly scalable technology;
- Anywhere deployable;
- Easily maintained;
- Permits 24/7 retail store operation, if desired;
- Conveys specific, highly tailored offers to shoppers;
- Drives sales by appealing to casual shoppers;
- Significantly enhances retail shopping experience;
- Reduces employee overhead costs by helping customers locate items more easily within the store;
- Collects feedback from consumers in a non-intrusive way, enabling retailers to address any issues and make additional follow-up sales to customers in the future.
With numerous benefits provided by use of this innovative technology, iBeacon enables retail outlets to compete more effectively with respect to other brick-and-mortar and online stores.