Beacons and Big Data: The new ‘Power Couple’ in Retail
Last Updated:  April 12, 2023
I am sure you have heard about the famous ‘beer and diapers’ example in which Walmart learned that the two products were often bought together. They came to this conclusion after analyzing data from in-store purchases. This story dates back to 1992, making it clear that retailers have, from a very long time, been aware that such kind of information is highly beneficial for increasing sales.
Yet, even today, 59% retailers identify lack of consumer insights as their top data-related pain point.
Retailers have many insights to gain from their customers’ purchasing habits, such as when shoppers buy the most, what items they buy together, and which offers are most effective. By being aware of a customer’s buying history, retailers and manufacturers can predictively model what a shopper is more likely to want to buy. With each successful prediction and each purchase, the ability to present the right offers to the right shoppers at the right time increases.
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This is what makes ‘big data’ such an important aspect of the retail industry.
Big data and retail
While, Big Data allows retailers to more accurately target marketing profiles of their customers, iBeacon technology gives retailers the opportunity to target those customers through highly-relevant and personalized offers.
Beacons provide businesses with endless opportunities to collect massive amounts of untapped data, such as the number of beacon hits and customer dwell time at a particular location within a specified time and date range, busiest hours throughout the day or week, number of people who walk by a location each day, etc. This data allows retailers to accordingly make improvements to products, staff allocation in various departments and services, and so on.
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Following are a few metrics that can be captured by integrating beacons with your CRM system:
-Footfall, online visits, visits through apps, heat maps inside a store
-Recency and frequency of visits, customer behavior and transactions
-Capacity planning and resource utilization through mobile in-store combination analytics
Thus, beacons allow for a new level of in-store shopping experience. All of the amazing progress that has taken shape over the last decade in web-based behavioral targeting can now be applied to the retail experience!
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How big data and beacons can streamline customer experiences
1. Leverage loyalty programs:
The Swan Centre in Eastleigh, Hampshire, is using beacon technology in conjunction with its loyalty app called “Smart Rewards” to send customers discount offers straight to their smartphones.
The way it works is, customers entering the centre receive 10 points to their loyalty account – which can be used along with merchant discount offers. The frequency and targeting of these messages are carefully controlled to ensure no single customer is bombarded with messages.
By using a beacon-enabled app, the Swan Centre is now more capable of building customer loyalty as it enables them to gain data about their end users.
Thus, beacons can help a retailer recognise, reward and understand its most loyal customers,by increasing loyalty and building a stronger relationship with them. They can be used to track how many times a customer visits a shop, the departments where they spend the most time (to determine which display signages are the most effective) and the number of promotions/vouchers redeemed in order to monitor conversions.
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2. Empower sales associates:
Waitrose is using beacons at its concept store in Swindon, in a very different way.
Image Source: Retail Innovation
The app allows customers to scan a product’s bar code to find out more information and reviews as well as call for assistance. If a customer chooses to do so, a member of the staff will receive the request on an iPad informing them that a customer is waiting for help. The staff member will also receive information about the customer and his/her previous shopping history. Relaying such important information about the customer to sales associates helps them get a better idea on how they should approach the customer.
3. Optimize store layouts and product placements:
Using beacons, retailers can find high-traffic locations in their store, and then optimize store layouts and product placement based on navigational patterns. Data on customer dwell times at various sections and customers’ entire path within the store, helps understand which sections are the most popular and allows retailers to invest in those sections to optimize ROI.
Image Source: RFID Journal
Alex and Ani, a popular retail brand deployed beacons in an effort to retain customers and to upsell products in-store. They tested different positioning of items inside the store to compare what merchandise offerings work best for them. For example, if they noticed that their customer base has shifted to mostly men ahead of Valentine’s Day, then realigning products in the store to conform to how men shop could result in better sales.
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Over the years, it’s become evident that the best way to understand customers is through analytics. The fact that real-time data can be accumulated quickly, using beacons, gives businesses the necessary insights and an upper hand to remain relevant in their space. On the other hand, customers are in the driver’s seat with the expectation that shopping experiences should be personalized and efficient.
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!