According to a recent report titled ‘BLE Tags: The Location of Things (LOT)’ from ABI Research, the total BLE Beacon shipments will comfortably exceed 400 million units in 2020. Adding on to that, the use of beacons at retail is predicted to be explosive over the next year or so, as merchants complete beacon trials, according to principal ABI analyst Patrick Connolly. This comes as no surprise, given that a number of big names including Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Kohl’s and Unilever have been in news for testing and rolling out beacon programs.
Adding on to that, beacons also offer retailers a unique opportunity to leverage proximity data for deeper, actionable customer insights. However, currently too many marketers are focused on using the technology as another promotional engine. Over the past year, the number of beacon deployments have grown to such an extent that shoppers are likely to find lot more opportunities to receive beacon-enabled special offers as they hit the stores looking for gifts during the upcoming holiday season.
Not only does this practice threaten to undermine the potential of beacons but also might overwhelm customers and nudge them to turn off the notifications. In fact, according to an inMarket study, with every other push notification that is delivered per store visit, marketers risk a whopping 313% drop in app usage. Definitely something that marketers need to be wary of considering that it’s a bigger challenge retaining customers once you have acquired them.
The best way ahead is for marketers to ensure that the information provided by beacons is used for personalized ads and emails, customized digital experiences in-store, better store layouts and more. In this blog we will discuss in detail about 4 things that retailers need to focus on to get their iBeacon retail app right.
1. Send reminders asking users to switch on Bluetooth when they enter the store
Any marketer looking to leverage beacons has definitely been bogged down by one main challenge at some point of time- ‘What can I do to ensure that users with my app have bluetooth turned on?’ In fact this is one of the questions that frequently surfaces in most of our client conversations as well.
There is a simple solution to this – geofencing. For example, the Beaconstac platform recently launched a new feature called ‘Places’ that allows retailers to define a geofence with ease. Retailers can now simply add a place by choosing ‘Places’ from the navigation, clicking on ‘Add a new place’, typing in the attributes such as name, address (latitude and longitude values). Once that is done, they can easily define the range of a geofence (in metres).
Now once a retailer has set a geofence for a place, they will receive callbacks when the fence is breached and a user enters or exits the region. Retailers can then use these callbacks to show a notification, that gently nudges the user to keep their bluetooth turned on.
2. Push contextually relevant information at product displays, check out area etc.
It’s best to cater to consumers at their ‘moment of truth’. You could selectively push a time relevant (a notification on a limited period offer on her favourite brand), preference based (a notification asking if she wishes to touch and feel the handbags that she recently browsed online), or circumstantial (a notification on the shortest path to the items on her wishlist) message to customers to let them see the real value in your app.
In fact, according to a recent survey by Accenture, nearly 60% of U.S consumers agreed that they want a more personalized shopping experience with real-time promotions and offers. For this it is highly critical that retailers understand the context of their customers and tailor messages accordingly.
For example, say a customer is detected to be standing in the houseware department, right next to the display of dishwashers. You can use beacons to push product demo videos that will educate the customer on its energy efficiency and how easy it is to install the dishwasher at home, thus helping them make the right decision.
Image Source: mobilecommercedaily.com
A good example of how brands can use beacons to push contextually relevant information other than offers is recent beacon trial by Target. This retail brand recently leveraged beacons across 50 stores, to make hyperlocal content accessible to shoppers via a newsfeed-like stream called the Target Run page. In a general scenario, once a customer has downloaded the Target app and enabled Bluetooth on his/her device, product recommendations related to the department that he/she is currently located in, may pop up as a push notification or as an in-app update on their phone. And now this same information can also be found on the new Target Run page, which operates similar to a social media site’s newsfeed, with the latest content (product recommendations or coupons based on the user’s location) being added on the top of the page.
3. Use geofencing to keep an in-store pickup customer’s order ready on time
One of the things you could do is to leverage beacons to offer features such as “reserve-in-store” and “click to collect” that allow online shoppers to reserve an item they wish to buy in a store nearby (this is based on their GPS information) so that they can pick it up instead of having to wait for the item to be shipped.
Image Source: thenextweb.com
This is exactly what Tesco did when it piloted the technology in its stores last year. Late last year, the British retailer kicked off a beacon trial at Chelmsford store. As as part of the trial, Tesco leveraged beacons to push notifications via the app, to notify customers when their orders are ready for pick-up. This allowed customers to make better use of their wait time.
You could even improve on this by directly connecting your app to the in-store systems, thus ensuring that your in-store staff are notified about a consumer’s order and proximity to the store . That way when a consumer who has placed a click-and-collect order comes within the radius of the store, a notification will be sent to your in-store picking systems, prompting the in-store staff to start completing the order.
4. Allow customers to reach out to the sales staff
You could even install beacons in-store to allow customers to reach out to sales associates for assistance from within an app. Once a customer has requested for such assistance via the app, you could then use the customer’s location information to dispatch sales associates to the right department, based on the associate’s expertise. Further, you could also install beacons in-store to read loyalty card and relay information , such as the items in wishlist, preferences based on Pinterest pins, whether she usually buys items on sale etc., to associates on the floor.
Relaying such important information about your customer to the sales associates will help them get a better idea on how they should approach the customer rather than starting off with generic questions . For example, if the customer is huge fan of the brand Michael Kors and has recently bought a cream trousers, the sales associate could suggest a yellow Michael Kors shirt that goes well with her trouser and is on sale.
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!
Are there any other interesting beacon-enabled retail app features that we missed out on? Let us know in the comments below.