Beacon technology to revolutionise shopping experiences

Published on 08 April 2015 by in Latest News

Ever since Apple debuted iBeacon technology in 2013, it has been rumoured as the next big thing for retailers. numero believes the in-store Beacon technology could provide retailers with the opportunity to enhance the shopping experience, through personalised special offers and discounts.

iStock 000017912506 Small 300x230 Beacon technology to revolutionise shopping experiencesWith an iBeacon network, a brand, retailer or app will be able to understand exactly where a customer is within the brick and mortar environment; giving retailers the opportunity to send customers contextual and relevant messages and advertisements via their mobile devices.  The technology will also help provide retailers with useful data about their customers such as location, buying behaviour and what they have looked at.

To date Apple have championed the way with its iBeacon implementation, building it into devices and operating systems, and as a result many third party manufacturers have built beacons that can send iBeacon messages to Apple devices.

For Christmas 2014, Apple Pay introduced a loyalty system to deliver targeted location-based content to iPhone users. The system used iBeacon technology to allow Apple to provide more data to its users, which was used to promote Apple Pay at supporting kiosks. The loyalty program provided exclusive offers and discounts to users in exchange for them using their iPhone to make a payment. One example was that a user in store would receive a push notification via the store’s app, initiated through iBeacon, informing them that an item was available for ‘buy one, get one free’. The customer could then go to checkout with the items and earn their reward by using Apple Pay.

iStock 000058877048 Small 300x199 Beacon technology to revolutionise shopping experiencesOther brands that have tried to implement the technology include Mothercare, Tesco, Waitrose and airlines such as Virgin and EasyJet. Virgin Atlantic began an iBeacon trial in Heathrow Airport at the beginning of 2014. Passengers with an electronic boarding pass loaded in their iPhone Passbook app could receive messages relevant to their location within the airport, for example, passengers in the departures section of the airport would be sent special offers such as a commission-free currency exchange. EasyJet then followed in suit, using the technology at bag drop offs and security areas to notify passengers that they needed to have documentation ready, such as passports and boarding passes. However unlike other trials, anyone using the EasyJet app was able to take part, which included more than 9m passengers.

Waitrose also trialled iBeacons in a new smartphone app that would alert customers to price promotions when in the relevant section of the store, whereas Tesco’s said that the technology wouldn’t be used to push out marketing messages, but instead to notify shoppers that their pre-ordered goods were waiting for them.

Beacons are expected to become an integral part of every retailer’s customer relationship management strategy in the future, though at present there are still some initial limitations to overcome. In particular some customers may worry that this technology may prove to be too intrusive and therefore may not download the app required to receive and respond to the beacon signal. However, numero believe that consumers often become receptive to technology once they know it can enhance their experience, therefore brands need to create an engagement strategy to appropriately promote Beacon technology and encourage customers to use it. numero predict that as more retailers adopt the technology within their brick and mortar environments, it has the potential to revolutionise indoor communication, providing a more personalised shopping experience. Ultimately, customers will decide whether beacon technology ever becomes the norm?

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