By Catherine Tabor, CEO, Sparkfly
Beacons provide retailers with an opportunity to increase engagement and help direct the in-store experience, and they indicate a shift in many brands’ digital and in-store marketing and merchandising strategies. However, they need to be connected to other consumer touchpoints to deliver their full potential value to retailers.
Merging the Physical and Digital
Led by innovative companies like Sephora, retailers are beginning to focus on developing omni-channel strategies and merging the physical and digital worlds. The omni-channel approach is largely a response to consumers’ practical use of digital for finding deals, researching products and participating in loyalty programs.
The benefits of an omni-channel marketing approach are two-fold. First, it provides consumers with digital tools and incentives that are both intuitive and incredibly complementary with the physical retail experience. Secondly, omni-channel marketing offers retailers increased insight into consumer behavior and the path to purchase (i.e., what causes a consumer to buy or not).
Beacons Shed Some, Not All, Light
By using tools like beacons, retailers hope to further encourage digital-driven consumer behavior within the physical shopping experience. However, while beacons can supply insightful data about consumer engagement and consideration, the path to purchase is not completely illuminated. Despite all the advantages of beacon technology, retailers are still finding it a challenge to connect this new wealth of consumer engagement data to the critical end point, and true determination of marketing success, purchases made at point-of-sale systems.
The path to purchase has many different elements, and beacons only provide insight into one. For example, a consumer may see a mobile ad that has a promotion for a new TV, and this could drive them into Best Buy. Once inside Best Buy, a beacon may direct them to another deal on Blu-Ray players, and in the end, the consumer may buy the TV, a Blu-Ray player, and some new Playstation 3 games. In this scenario, data from the beacon will only shed light on one step. Best Buy also cares about data points like how many people their mobile ads got in the store, and what the average basket size was from the consumers cashing in on the TV deal.
The Way Forward
This is an exciting time for retailers. The adoption of beacons is another important step toward merging the digital and physical shopping experiences, and marketers are being presented with new consumer touchpoints and a more complete view into consumer behavior and preferences.
By taking the next step and merging this new data with other touchpoints, such as the transactional data generated by POS technology, retailers will gain the ability to track and measure results of their marketing efforts through the entire path-to-purchase, and they can use that knowledge to increase customer engagement, loyalty and overall sales.