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Why iBeacons Intrigue Retailers

BY Dan Berthiaume

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.

Immediacy
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.

Simplicity
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.

Utility
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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S.Wolpers says:
Mar-27-2014 10:54 am

Based on a series of interviews for a planned omni-channel application, I put together a slide-deck that lists the challenges and opportunities that the use of beacon-based tracking technology holds for retailer – feedback is very welcome: iBeacons – Fad Or Trend? The Use-Cases For Retail And Omni-Channel Solutions

S.Wolpers says:
Mar-27-2014 10:54 am

Based on a series of interviews for a planned omni-channel application, I put together a slide-deck that lists the challenges and opportunities that the use of beacon-based tracking technology holds for retailer – feedback is very welcome: iBeacons – Fad Or Trend? The Use-Cases For Retail And Omni-Channel Solutions

S.Gurley says:
Mar-26-2014 05:30 pm

While I like the your article "Why iBeacons Intrigue Retailers", perhaps your readers would benefit from having more information about iBeacon and BLE. If they are interested, they can go to Mobile Payments Today to download a white paper and companion infographic that explains iBeacon, BLE and NFC in greater detail. The white paper is entitled "iBeacon/BLE vs NFC Debate: Now The Truth".

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J. Crew Q4 sales up, but profit drops

BY CSA STAFF

Although fourth-quarter sales at J. Crew increased, the retailer saw profit drop 42% in the quarter amid higher costs.

Net income fell to $5.92 million in the quarter, down from $10.2 million in the year-ago period.

Revenue increased 6.7% to $686.2 million. Retail store sales rose 5% to $438.6 million and direct sales jumped 10% to $238.1 million

Same-store sales, which include direct sales, increased 3%. Excluding a calendar shift, comparable-store sales increased 4%.

Gross margin fell to 36.8% from 38.4%. Overhead costs rose 4.5%.

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GS1 US Guide aims to improve online commerce

BY CSA STAFF

Last month, Amazon started hiding listings for certain products if they do not have a GTIN, better known as the Universal Product Code (UPC). Now eBay, Google and Walmart have endorsed a drive to help businesses obtain valid GTINs for products sold online.

Both are significant developments in a larger trend, as major e-commerce players look to dramatically reduce the number of inaccuracies that online shoppers encounter every day.

The new GS1 US guide helps businesses, such as Amazon, improve e-commerce by resolving incorrect and duplicate product information online. Developed for e-tailers, retailers, e-commerce platform providers, content aggregators and content distributors, the GTIN Validation Guide, offers best practices for leveraging GS1 Standards to enhance the consumer shopping experience while boosting e-tailer efficiency, revenue and loyalty. It also offers improvements for better data management and product analytics.

Global Trade Item Numbers (GTIN), the numbering sequence within barcodes and commonly called UPCs, are the foundation of the GS1 System of Standards and have identified products at point-of-sale for 40 years. The GTIN Validation Guide supports extending GTINs online to help ensure more accurate and consistent product descriptions that link to images and promotions, including coupons. Large online marketplaces and search engines already require GTINs to better help customers find, evaluate and purchase products online.

“As we continue to create a seamless shopping experience across online, mobile and stores, we rely on accurate and consistent product information,” said Jeremy King, chief technology officer at Walmart Global eCommerce. “The GS1 US GTIN Validation Guide is an important tool for improving the quality of product data and the relevance of online and mobile search results.”

“GS1 Standards have been invaluable in our efforts to improve the online shopping experience by harmonizing product data and eliminating inaccuracies. We welcome this new guide," said Eric Tholomé, product management director, Google Shopping.

The GTIN Validation Guide aims to help retailers, e-tailers and solution providers offer consumers a consistent search, discovery, and purchase experience, which has become challenging as shoppers increasingly move through multiple channels, including traditional Internet shopping, mobile applications and brick-and-mortar stores. The guide also offers assistance for determining whether a GTIN is valid and correctly assigned according to the GS1 System of Standards.

“Every day, millions of online buyers create more demand for trusted sources of accurate product data,” said Bob Carpenter, president and CEO of GS1 US. “Successful organizations must respond by providing a seamless, convenient shopping experience that delivers complete and accurate online content. Businesses that use GS1 Standards can improve data quality and help consumers find the right product in the right place at the right time, leading to higher levels of traffic and sales.”

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