Business Insider predicts that beacons will generate more than $44 million (about R579 million) in sales in the US in 2017 – only four years after the technology was first introduced there.
Beacons (or more formally, bluetooth low-energy beacons) are devices that transmit signals to prompt action on nearby smartphones. In the retail sector, where beacons have enjoyed the most success, they can be used to communicate powerful marketing messages to any smartphone within range with the appropriate apps installed.
Since their introduction, beacons have revolutionised brick-and-mortar retail businesses in the US, which has led to them being described as the key to attracting customers to stores and improving customer satisfaction. Let’s look at a few reasons why.
How beacons improve customer satisfaction
In a study conducted by Swirl, 70% of consumers surveyed said that receiving marketing messages from beacons increased their chances of making a purchase. What sets beacons apart from other marketing channels?
- Hyper-personalisation. Personalised experiences have already been proven to lead to customer satisfaction and retention. But beacons make it possible for retailers to personalise customer experiences further. For example, if you enter a grocery store, a beacon can reference a recipe that you saved online and offer you a bundled sale with all the ingredients.
- In-store navigation. Attracting nearby customers to the store is only part of what beacons can do. By strategically setting them up at various locations inside the shop, you can guide customers through the store. Whether you’re helping them find the products they want without wandering around or directing them to specific products on promotion, it’s a convenient way to ease the shopping experience.
- Effective engagement. With beacons you can send marketing messages when necessary. In this way, retailers avoid bombarding customers with unwelcome marketing messages. If customers are in or near a store, the likelihood of them being open to being marketed to is good.
The future of beacons in retail
Beacons have already taken off in North America and the rest of the world is catching up. As adoption increases, so too will the ways in which this technology will be used in the retail sector. Social media is set to follow next with Facebook and its microlocation leading the way. The internet of things is also bound to have an influence on how beacons evolve. Amazon Go, Amazon’s ambitious walletless (and queueless) supermarket is by far the most promising example of beacon technology. If beacons do become standard, omnichannel strategies will also have to evolve to accommodate this new channel.
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