According to the 2014 Mobile Media Consumption Report by InMobi, mobile commerce has already seen a 15% increase this year, and states that 83% of consumers are planning to involve themselves in mobile commerce in the coming year. With more and more brands coming up with intuitively designed apps and features such as ‘order online’ and ‘collect in-store’, drawing in consumer traffic has become an uphill battle for most malls.
A recent article in Business Insider, quoted Green Street Advisors, a real estate and REIT analytics firm, stating that “15% of malls in the U.S. will fail or be converted into non-retail spaces within the next ten years”. An estimate that is driven by the decision made by large retailers such as Barnes and Nobles, Macy’s etc., to forgo the mall in favor of an online business.
But thanks to significant technological innovation, malls are now fighting back. Beacons, the tiny bluetooth low energy appliances are now being used by malls to create futuristic shopping experiences that appeal to a major chunk of consumers who agree that mobile is one of the key media to impact their purchasing decisions.
If you are just getting a hang of iBeacon technology, then our Beacon 101 ebook is a good place to begin with.
Although beacons have gained momentum with a number of deployments across various verticals such as stadiums and large-scale events and trade shows, there are quite a few misconceptions around privacy and security of beacons. We’ve discussed a few of the most frequently asked questions, in an earlier blog post on Beacon FAQs.
In this post, we will be discussing in detail about about how malls can use beacons to delight shoppers and increase visibility for retailers.
How Malls can put beacons to use:
1. Gamify shopping with digital treasure hunts
For years, malls have organized fun events such as digital treasure hunts to engage their consumers better. Most of these events used QR codes to confirm the discovery of items. With beacons, you can offer an enhanced gaming experience that is both intuitive and unobtrusive, allowing you to precisely locate your consumer within the premises of the mall and easily detect when he/she discovers an item he is searching for.
You can also use these events to encourage your consumers to explore parts of the mall that they are yet to pay a visit to by offering special rewards such as free drink at the food court or discount coupons on merchandise.
2. Gather digital upvotes and downvotes from visitors
Though beacons are popularly known for being able to send contextual messages and offers to customers, there is more to them. You can integrate beacons with your mobile app strategy in order to enable consumers to upvote or downvote experiences based on the facilities provided. This will encourage consumers to interact with the mall on a digital level and serve as a good feedback tool for malls.
3. Allow retailers to join forces when it comes to geo-targeted offers
More often than not, shoppers come to malls hunting for gifts for various occasions. You can use beacons to promote multiple stores by grouping them into different discrete areas across the floor map of the mall and delivering customized messages to consumers within a certain radius alone. For example, you can provide ideas to customers hunting for gifts by sending messages such as
‘Out for last minute Thanksgiving shopping? Both Kate Spade and Home Decor are offering 30% discounts’.
This way you can effectively nudge your shoppers into making buying decisions. On the other hand, retailers stand to gain from these activities.
4. Use time-sensitive deals to entice new shoppers to walk in
One of the most effective ways of creating an urgency among new shoppers, is offering them a time-sensitive deal. For example, a brand that recently opened a new store at your mall can entice shoppers to walk-in and check out the collections at the store by sending out a time-sensitive deal to their mobile devices as soon as they enter the mall.
“Looking for that perfect little black dress. Swing by the brand new Anthropologie store to avail 50% off before 1pm, 30% off between 1pm and 2pm and 25% off between 3 and 4pm”
5. Help in navigation
Beacons tell shoppers where they are and direct them to their desired locations within the mall. For example, you can use beacons to send notifications to customers about a flash sale or a book-reading session by an author that is about to commence, when they walk by the store or book stall respectively. Moreover, by providing real-time statistics, these tiny devices can help detect hotspots and send alerts to the security personnel about locations that are overcrowded and hence more prone to security breaches.
6. Engage your customers with a unified mall experience
Most consumers visit more than one store in a mall. Say a shopper visits 10 different stores in a particular mall and if each of these stores were to enable a unique beacon program, then it would amount to creating ten different experiences. And remember, the shopper has to have ten different apps installed. This is a bit of an overkill.
On the other hand, if a mall spearheads a unique beacon program, they can use these tiny devices to send out alerts promoting multiple brands, based on factors such as user’s past preferences, time and money spent at the mall etc., thus ensuring that shoppers are not spammed with promotional messages. This can be upsold as a premium feature to brands and retailers who have a presence in the mall.
7. Provide improved parking facilities
Finding a parking space can often end up being a taxing task. Malls have no way of letting shoppers know if the parking lot is full before their entering the mall. Thus, most consumers drive in only to end up circling round and round in vain looking for a spot. But with beacons, as soon as a shopper enters your mall, you can trigger a notification about the number of parking spots available and direct shoppers to the nearest one.
Real-life examples of beacon implementations in malls
1. The Werribee Plaza
The Werribee Plaza shopping centre at Melbourne recently started using iBeacon technology to allow stores to target customers passing by with promotional offers. Once the customers enter the mall premises, they will be presented with a catalogue of offers that can be stored either on Apple Passbook or Google Wallet and redeemed at that specific store. As shoppers walk by various stores inside the mall, beacons strategically deployed at different areas of the mall will send an alert reminding them about offers at a the store closest to them.
2. Regent Street
Regent Street, a popular shopping and tourist destination in the west end of London, recently made headlines for its markedly different use of beacon technology. Rather than using beacons to promote individual brands or chain of stores, the Regent Street implementation includes one app to enhance an almost mile-long street with more than 130 storefronts. Regent Street recently unveiled an app that takes advantage of location-aware iBeacon technology to deliver new-product promotions, discounts and other alerts to mobile devices of shoppers as they walk past stores and restaurants.
Image Source: boni.me
Touted as the largest single day iBeacon deployment, Istanbul’s ANKAmall recently partnered with Boni to install 356 beacons to cover the whole of 112.000 m2 of the venue. Shoppers can benefit from this by downloading Boni’s ‘Walk&Win’ app from the App store or Google Play. The mobile app is programmed to allow shoppers to collect Boni points while window shopping at different participating retail stores at the mall. After having collected points, shoppers can simply redeem them at stores within the mall.
If you are planning a beacon pilot, take a look at Beaconstac, that includes everything you need to get started. Using Beaconstac you can set up your own campaign, without a developer’s help!