Beacons – A Brief Bio:
Beacons are cost-effective, energy-efficient hardware, primarily used for transmitting purposes. The beacons are equipped with an advanced technology, called BLE or Bluetooth Low Energy that is widely used in delivering digitized, context-aware messages within a given proximity range. These devices have superior capacity in tracing portable smart devices (smartphones, tablets, smart watches, etc.) indoors. While GPS is often ineffective in fulfilling the same purpose, especially indoor, beacons, on the other hand, perfectly address the limitations by delivering the right alert, notification or data to users’ mobile via installed apps.
Another advantage that beacons have to offer over traditional GPS system is the area of communication. GPS is quite appropriate for delivering content within macro range and BLE-based beacons are perfect for interaction within the micro range. This very feature of beacons allows business retailers in targeting customers in-store, even within a more specific proximity, such as store aisles or fixtures. An evaluation of beacons’ proximity range would tell us that it occupies the interim position of narrow (NFC) and broad (GPS) range. This very feature, also, sets beacons apart from the said options/alternatives.
Beacons work as both way communication mediums, which means it happens between an app and strategic location of the devices. Thanks to technological empowerment, brands and retail stores have the opportunity to develop proximity-based, smart applications that can be run on smart devices with BLE compatibility. BLE-based mobile technology is supported by almost all major platforms and is becoming extremely popular both among brands and users. Why? Because, these beacons are inexpensive, operates for a couple of years on battery without interruption and don’t make users to experience battery draining problem.
Beacon Technology was popularized by Apple only in 2013, when they launched iBeacon along with iOS7 at the World Wide Developer Conference. The tech giant also incorporated iBeacon support for almost smart devices produced in the same year. Currently, there are over 200 million Apple devices, meant to function as both notification transferors and receivers.
How Beacons Function:
Quite contrary to the popular belief, beacon technology is not primarily hardware-based. In fact, the difference is made by developers through their ability to customize the system and making it integration-ready with a wide variety of technology, customers are using. While this, indeed, is a difficult goal to achieve, can easily be simplified by finding the key to unlock the right mode of messaging between the hardware and beacon. In this context, correct understanding about the requirement of app users and the time they need their requirement to be fulfilled, can be of great help. The messages can be changed and customized as per customers’ location, loyalty points, and demographics.
Of the Business and Beacons:
Transactions and customer-business interaction can be made more real-time, less time consuming and near context relevant with beacons. Deployment of these devices in an environment that requires interaction with customers, makes it easier for the store system to detect the app on users’ mobile devices, measure signal strength, calculate distance of the device in approximation and deliver notification once the standard threshold is matched.
Beyond being used in business environments, beacons can also be deployed in other settings such as, museums, parks even galleries. Despite usage and deployment of these devices is still at a very preliminary stage, the mammoth growth potential that they contain can be felt through their increasing usage at physical retail stores.
Beacon Usage in Offline Retail
Some of the leading and most recognized offline retail brands have already agreed in favor of implementing beacon technology in their stores. These devices can be extremely helpful in prompting customers through real-time and accurate notifications, based on their location. Here follows gratifying aspects that beacons have to offer to Retailers:
· Welcoming customers
· Delivering proximity-based promotional messages, offers and coupons (matching customer preference)
· Allowing customer participation to loyalty programs
· Allowing instant payment without touch
· Customer upselling
Not only retail stores, malls are increasingly becoming inclined at using beacon technology, only to make the experience more pleasing for shoppers. Furthermore, beacon technology is of great help to malls when it comes to earning additional revenue through sponsored content.
The Newest Customer Engagement Crusaders in Town:
Deployment of Beacon Technology can take the customer engagement process to a new and unprecedented high. The new age, tech savvy customers never hide their loyalty to those with the capacity to ensure convenience through information. Beacons are here to make the information sharing process more enriching, contextually relevant and real-time. Retailers can use these newest tools to provide customers with gratifying experience even when they are offline and make them feel truly special (read: worth personalized attention), only to broaden the path of superior customer engagement.