Why iBeacons Intrigue Retailers

iBeacons, the Apple iOS 7 technological feature that uses low-frequency Bluetooth transmissions to help mobile devices track their position relative to stationary beacons, are getting quite a bit of attention from retailers and the IT vendors who serve them. Each beacon has a unique ID that lets mobile devices tell different beacons apart.

What is grabbing the attention of retailers is not so much that devices can obtain individualized information from beacons, but that beacons can also obtain individualized information from mobile devices. Placed in stores, iBeacons can also tell retailers quite a bit about who is shopping and what they are looking for. Here are three specific reasons iBeacons are a new hot topic among retail technology professionals.

A recent study from in-store mobile marketing platform provider Swirl shows that 77% of consumers would be willing to share their smartphone location data as long as they received enough value in return. Receiving value means avoiding irrelevant offers flooding their texts or emails.

iBeacons offer retailers the opportunity to obtain immediate location and buying preference data from opt-in customers who visit their stores. As a customer who is part of a retailer’s loyalty program walks past an iBeacon in a certain aisle, they can be sent a personalized offer to purchase an item one aisle over that complements something they bought last week. This type of targeted, timely convenience can enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty while also increasing the breadth and depth of data retailers can collect about them.

iBeacons operate with a great deal of simplicity. The customer provides the most important piece of hardware, their own mobile device. This allows retailers to instantly and effortlessly know who is entering their store and where they are located, without having to use employee-based tablets or intrusive check-in procedures.

In addition, the beacons themselves are small and inconspicuous enough that they can be easily placed throughout the store without disrupting the customer experience. Retailers have the challenge of providing shoppers a personalized, seamless experience in stores that connects to and in many cases mimics their digital experience, while maintaining a smooth flow of browsing, selecting and purchasing products. iBeacons help retailers meet this challenge.

iBeacons offer many potential uses to retailers. While the majority of attention has been focused on the applicability of iBeacons to targeted, time-sensitive marketing, they offer retailer other possibilities, as well. For example, iBeacons can help retailers determine how individual shoppers are traveling their stores, where they are stopping, where they are avoiding, etc. This data can then be amalgamated and used to determine at a higher level what demographic groups are coming into the store and what differences in may exist in where and how they conduct their shopping experiences. Knowledge is power, and those little beacons hold a lot of potential power indeed.

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