Beacons in Retail – Things about Beacons Retailers Need to Know

Published Date

February 20, 2017


5 minutes

Written By

Madhushree Bharati

In the recent years, online shopping has attained immense popularity mainly because people find it suitable to purchase from the comfort of their homes or offices. So when it comes to online shopping, it has always been a priority for the shoppers. Today, expectations of consumers have reached the sky. With greater awareness of e-commerce shopping facilities, consumers always look for the easiest way to buy the best product. Hence, to satisfy such rapid growing expectations, the in-store retailers have started adopting newer disruptive technologies so that they can offer better customer experience thereby keeping up the exponential retail growth. One of such technology is the beacon technology. In this article I am going to write about how beacons can improve customers experience in retail and things retailers really need to know about this technology.

What is a Beacon?

Beacon is a low cost, low powered and low energy Bluetooth device, that uses low frequency for transmitting weak signals to other Bluetooth-enabled devices. It pushes the notifications set by the retailers to the customers whoever passes by the stores carrying a Bluetooth enabled mobile phone with a specific application installed in it. The weak signals thrown away by beacon can be boosted up by signal boosters. This technology works exactly like a lighthouse, transmitting its signals all over its surroundings without knowing where they actually go.

Beacons in Retail Market

Although Beacon was not a quick hit in the retail industry initially, but by the end of 2015 retailers started experimenting and adapting this technology. After Macy’s successful implementation of beacons in retail via the Shopkick app for the first time in 2015, it became one of the common technologies in the retail market too. Its popularity ramped up, when Apple introduced its first standardized BLE beacon platform. Like Apple, even Google implemented its own Beacon i.e. Google’s Eddyston. Google’s Eddyston being a free source, got more recognition than iBeacon as it is easily available on GitHub. Initially this technology did not get much warm responses, but today it is throwing huge fire on retail.

Beacon technology in retail helps in retaining current customers by creating a better engaging in-store experience. With beacon, retailers can navigate customers through a store, find what they want and get a few perks for their efforts.

Most common problem faced by retailers today is customer engagement. And deployment of beacon could be one of its immediate solution that provides an engaging in-store customer experience. With this technology, retailers can navigate their customers from in-store. Once customer engagement succeeds, retailers can bring them back by notifying about new bonuses through beacon.

It is seen that almost half of the beacon triggered messages are some forms of coupons. RetailMeNot, a mobile couponing (beacon App) app company claims that couponing through beacon has brought around $3.5 billion alone in the retail sales. Beacon incorporated with mobile payment applications, enables even the brick and mortar retailers to reward their customers through their loyalty plans.

The beacon based apps consume the data of shopping history and preferences of the customers through their search and clicks. Hence, Beacons help retailers offer a personalized shopping experience to their consumers. This technology has also resulted in reducing the queuing and waiting time as a result of which, disappointments of customers have reduced to quite an extend and retailers are now all free to engage more and more with them.

Beacon’s Use Cases in Retail industry

  • Notify customers about offers and discounts when they come near the store
  • Send a Greeting message to a customer when he/she passes by the store and notify if anything is available of his/her choice
  • It enables the shopkeepers to know the choices of the customers by the behavioural analysis
  • Offer coupons to customers after a purchase to share with their friends, thus encouraging others to visit during a sale or during any special event
  • Retailers can use beacons to send coupons to customers and their friends thus enhancing customer visit
  • With beacon, retailers can avail a facility to customers to put forward their reviews on shopping experiences
  • If people are waiting in queues, retailers can send them messages or some interesting news through pictures and videos so that they do not get bored.
  • Through beacon, like the discount offers you can also notify shoppers about the new collections that are yet to come
  • With this technology, retailers can also assist their customers by providing them parking information near their stores. Because it is seen that many a times, customers do not visit the stores due to inconveniences in parking.

About the Author

Madhushree Bharati

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