Imagine this scenario: You walk into a store, and your phone lets you know what the latest offers are, which isle the discounts are in, and where you can get the remaining items on your shopping list.
It may not be happening at your local grocery store but in a few parts of the world, that’s what’s happening.
Beacons are changing the way you shop today and they are probably coming to a store near you.
So What are these Beacons?
Beacons are Bluetooth devices that detect smart phones in their vicinity.
Once a phone is connected, it sends out store-specific messages about offers, discounts, and other information that shoppers can use to improve their experience.
An alternate use is to advertise or track people around the store, getting an idea of shoppers’ behaviour, their likes, dislikes and some real-time testing!
The question is, is this something that customers would like?
Here’s what’s in it for the Customer
Most people hate advertising, period.
Timing is crucial for advertising and that’s something Beacons aim to hit accurately.
Think about it – if you want a particular brand of milk and are at a large store, you might be interested in finding out what’s on offer and where the discounts are.
However, you might not be interested in finding offers on bread or eggs or t-shirts or anything else that store sells.
The key is to get to the right thing at the right time – and then, advertising is unbeatable!
Maximising the use of Beacons
The one big thing that Beacons can be used effectively for is recognising past customers.
It’s quite rare to walk into a store and have the store-keeper recognize you – it happens in smaller stores but is quite rare in a big-box store.
However, what if they did?
Not because they recognized you but because their store told them that you’ve come back again.
Then, they can present you with a discount or special offer on your new purchases.
If you keep coming back for the same thing over and over again, they could offer you a product-specific offer.
The other advantage of Beacons is the collection of data.
A major issue brick and mortar retailers are facing today is “showrooming” or “trialing”!
Essentially, a potential customer walks through the door, checks out a toaster or mattress, and then buys it for less money on eBay or Amazon!
As a shopkeeper, footfalls are no longer important as window-shopping customers skew the numbers.
The thing that store owners can still do is gather information about these walk-in, walk-out customers and improve their targeting information.
What do you do with that data?
Think about big-box stores, large organizations and their obsession with customer data – think about why these organizations focus on that and you’ll have your answer.
Is this the Future of Shopping?
Traditionally, retailers have had to rely on a lot of manual-options when gathering customer data.
What a customer’s intended to buy was only indicated through their billing.
Now, however, there are a lot more things you can keep track of.
The coupons they click on, the discounts they like, the aisles they prefer – everything gives you a little peek into the way the consumer behaves.
Google and Apple are already fighting it out on the Beacon-led market.
PayPal is going to enter that market soon. They are bringing out their own Beacon product this year and that’s going to add more fuel to the fire.
However, it’s still pretty new to the market and a lot more testing is required to perfect the format.
That said, don’t be surprised if you do happen to walk into a store soon and it already knew that you’d been there before, knew what you had bought and showed you an offer on what you had come in to buy – all on your mobile device!