Five Ways Beacon Technology Will Transform Retail

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2015 was the year of mobile. It felt like every aspect of our lives, especially retail, went online while brick and mortar stores suffered. But interestingly, although it may seem like all things moved digital, it is important to keep in mind that only 10% of most retailers are online. In the U.S., where many retailers are turning to Omni-channel, 90% of retail business still happens at the store.

Since most stores still work offline, an extremely unique opportunity presents itself.  Instead of online and offline competing against each other, they can work together to emerge as a powerful combination. It is easy to understand how people would think that online and offline would be a threat to one another but, if combined, they actually bring the consumer and retailer together like never before, enhancing the overall experience of retail.

Retailers are quickly finding out that technology can help their consumers discover products in a more in-depth manner. This creates consumer experiences that adapt with ever changing consumer behaviors and trends.

This is where beacons come in. Beacons are small, battery-operated, low-cost, wireless devices that continuously convey a simple low-energy Bluetooth signal.  According to IDC, the installed base of the IoT will be 212 billion devices by 2020, which will include 30 billion connected “things”. This is similar to other estimates by research organizations like Gartner. Gartner points out that in 2009 there were 2.5 billion connected devices. By 2020, there will be more than 30 billion in a variety of shapes and forms.

The signals emitted by beacons can be picked up by Apps on smartphones. The actions beacons can perform based on location, time and proximity are endless. They have the power to transform the way we live our lives. Here are five ways in which beacon technology will change retail in the coming year.

1. Beacons allow retailers to get a complete profile of their consumers.  

Beacons have the ability to single out potential customers. They will identify the customer and send personalized messages inviting them to the store based on collected data. This data helps retailers understand the consumer and their buying patterns and preferences. Beacons connect to the consumer’s personal device, customize messages, and connect with the consumer on a more personal level.

2. Timing, timing, timing!

Beacons push personalized deals and promotions just in time to impact sales in an enormous way. Through location based technology, the beacon can assess when the consumer is in the area and more importantly, near the store. It will send targeted, timely messages of deals that are occurring at that moment straight to the customer’s mobile device, the impact of real time messaging is huge.

3. Establishing a more fulfilling customer experience

Retailers have noticed that IoT can greatly improve customer experiences. Specifically, retailers are using IoT to pull consumers and provide them with products that have been contextualized and personalized for the customers’ gratification, according to IDC.

Retailers are not only looking at new ways to send out more personalized connections but also seek to use the influx of data to their advantage. This data can transform how retailers view their customers. It gives them new and important insights into buying habits and allows them to create a more unique experience for each and every consumer. In this way, consumers will also expect their conversations with the retailer to be unique to their needs and situations.

4. Enhancing customer engagement and therefore, driving customer loyalty

Customer demand for product availability, convenience, and personalized messages will be the main driver for retailers to adopt IoT in coming year.

There are huge opportunities to be gained when devices can gather data, present and utilize real-time information in meaningful, useful ways. Retailers become more flexible because the information and insights they need are readily available.

Marketing and merchandising habits of retailers will change based on the needs of the buyer. Beacons, when synced to a merchant’s app, can provide visual heat maps that show moving patterns of customers around the stores, it can access search trends and other insights that help merchants fully understand their customer.

5. Interactive in-store experiences

When customers walk into stores, they are undoubtedly overwhelmed by the number of products, long aisles, multiple floors and inefficient support staff. It is something we have all faced. We go in with the intention of buying something but come out completely frustrated and dazed.

Beacons will change the way we walk through stores. They have the ability to help consumers find products quickly, recommend products based on location, and provide personalized preferences as users walk around. They can drive discovery, simplify and ease checkout processes, and reduce waiting lines with digital payments and receipts.

 

Beacons are the future and they will play a huge role in the way we shop in the next few years.