iBeacons: Tomorrow’s retail stores today

Take a trip to your favourite retail store in 2015 and you might just notice several discrete iBeacon devices dotted around the shop’s walls, these micro-location gizmos are promising to usher in a new way of shopping on the high street.

In this article we aren’t going to cover exactly what iBeacons are, you can head over to our informative piece for that, but in a nutshell these inexpensive and clever pieces of kit are Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons that push content, via Bluetooth, to any registered smartphones in range.

ibeacon Feature Image colours

The potential uses for this close proximity technology are endless and this kit is already being extensively trialled, including by some of retail’s big hitters such as Tesco and Waitrose in the UK and Macy’s in the USA, as well as in Apple stores.

So what can we expect?

As we have said the potential applications for this technology is pretty limitless however in our example we can see how a retail outlet can cultivate and nurture deeper and longer conversations with its customers, building a long term relationship. The idea behind it is straightforward enough, by offering customers a more personalised experience, that customer is more likely to become a brand advocate, developing an affinity for the brand’s products and is significantly more likely to be a returning customer. Using this technology also gives the tried and trusted loyalty scheme a shot in the arm, by linking loyalty with shopper footfall.

Even more potent is the idea of linking the app and iBeacons to popular social media channels; giving customers the ability to quickly and seamlessly share their location, take and share photos and buying preferences to their circle of friends.

Meet regular shopper, Claire…

Please watch our video for more information about how iBeacon technology can be used in a retail context, in our example, 31-year old Claire has already signed up to the store’s online platform and has downloaded the App to her smartphone. As she enters the store the iBeacon located at the entrance to the shop pushes out a welcome message which contains a personalised coupon or promotion, picking store items or discount level based on her previous purchasing history. As she browsers the merchandise she could be sent further communications, in larger department stores this could be to promote time-specific offers such as the availability of a personal stylist or alert ‘click and collect’ counter staff of an impending customer pick-up.

The integration of social media with a loyalty scheme could mean that Claire is able to accrue discounts and gift vouchers for helping to promote the store to her friends, perhaps through additional app signups among her contacts.

In this video example the retail store is using a combination of iBeacon technology and loyalty program, while harnessing the power of social media, to create a powerful multi-channel approach to its digital and store marketing.

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