Roadmap for a Beacon Project: How to Plan your Budget
Last Updated:  September 25, 2023
According to the 2015 Store Operations Survey, an annual study comprising a survey of 100 retail executives by Retail TouchPoints, 29% of retailers already have beacons with 17% more planning to add beacons in their stores. This is not surprising, given that, there already are more than a million beacons in the marketplace and, this number is projected to blow past 400 million within the next five years, according to ABI Research. In fact, retailers are expected to invest $2.5 Billion in IoT within the next five years, according to recent Juniper Research and beacons are an intricate part of the category where Juniper sees the largest IoT hardware growth over that span of time.
[Tweet “46% of retailers either have or plan to have beacons in their stores by 2015”]
And retail is not the only sector that beacons have cast their spell on. Of late, businesses across various verticals, right from publishers like Elle magazine to music festivals like Wrigley Field concert to museums like The National Baseball Hall of Fame to airports like JFK International Airport, have been busy trying to integrate iBeacon technology with their marketing strategy.
While all this seems to hint on the fact that beacons are taking the world by storm, many marketers, even today are unsure about where to begin with when it comes planning their beacon project pilot.
If you are one among them, you have come to the right place. We recently conducted a webinar on ‘Your Guide to Planning a Successful Beacon Pilot’, to help brands understand what a beacon project pilot is all about, the kind of investment it involves, and how to run a successful beacon pilot. It will set you up for success.
In this blog, we will discuss in detail one of the primary factors that marketers think through over and over – the ‘beacon project budget’. In fact, this is one of the questions that frequently surfaces in our conversations with potential clients.
Factors that influence a beacon project budget
To put it in simple terms, the budget for a beacon project pilot mainly depends on two factors:
1. Developer Time
This is the most critical factor. To get your beacon project up and running as fast as possible, you will need one iOS developer, one Android developer, and one Back-end developer working on the beacon project, full time. If you don’t plan to include any kind of 3rd party data integration (like CRM) then you could go ahead without a back-end developer.
Once you have dedicated the calendars of these developers to full-time beacon project development, the number of hours needed will depend on the scope of the beacon pilot and the complexity of the use case you plan to implement. We will discuss this in detail further down this blog.
[Tweet “How does developer time influence your beacon project budget?”]
2. Number of beacons being deployed
This again depends on the scope of the beacon project pilot that you have in mind and the kind of use cases you plan to implement. For example, if you plan to use beacons to offer navigation as a feature or gain insights on customer movements at the event venue/store, then it calls for a large scale beacon deployment compared to the number of beacons required to offer proximity messaging or contactless payments.
A good practice is to start with a small pilot, with a limited set of people, at say 3 to 5 locations and test for about 3 use cases. We suggest clients to try out simple use cases in their beacon pilot. These primarily include:
(c) Feedback Form (eg: feedback on the in-store shopping experience, on the kind of stalls that were put up at the event etc.)
This way, if you plan to test for say 3 use cases at 3 different locations (each of say 500 sq ft), you will need a minimum of 10 beacons in total. For bigger stores or venues (of say 2500 sq ft) you will need around 12 to 15 beacons per store or venue.
[Tweet “What are the 3 best use cases that can be implemented in a beacon project pilot?”]
Roadmap for a beacon project pilot
Earlier in this blog we discussed that the developer time required for a beacon project depends on the scope of the pilot. To give you a better idea of this, we will first take you through the basic outline of a beacon project roadmap. Deciding where your beacon project fits in amongst the following three stages of the roadmap will help you come up with a rough estimate of the developer time needed, so that you can manage the project schedule accordingly.
[Tweet “3 stages that constitute the roadmap for a beacon project pilot”]
1st stage – Prototyping an app
Developer time taken: 1 week
This is one of the basic stages of a beacon project pilot. An important thing to note here is that, irrespective of whether you already have an app in place or are yet to develop an app, the time taken for prototyping an app will be the same. To ease your way through this step, your developers could prototype an app from scratch using the boilerplate (sample app source code) provided by Beaconstac.
If the goal of your beacon project is to come up with a prototype of an app and test it among your employees and staff without any personalization ( eg: pushing generic welcome messages, discount coupons etc.), your pilot is all set to be run at this stage.
2nd stage – Testing Integration
Developer time taken: 1 week
This step comes into play, if you plan to add a little personalization element to the use cases that are being implemented. For example, say, you want to welcome your visitors personally when they enter the event venue or push relevant offers based on their previous purchase history, then your developers can create a branch of the existing app and integrate it with CRM. Ideally even this shouldn’t take much of time, provided you are able to expose APIs of your CRM to a beacon management platform such as Beaconstac.
Another important thing to note here is that, depending on the complexity of the use case you plan to implement, the developer time required could increase.
If the goal of your beacon project is to test your app among your employees and staff with a little personalization element, then your pilot is all set to be run at this stage.
3rd stage – Rolling out the beacon-enabled app to your end customer
Developer time taken: 2 weeks
Like we said earlier, it is best to stick to a limited audience and limited number of locations. For example, you can limit the number of customers who can experience how your app works, and how it interacts with beacons. Keeping it a ‘closed’ and ‘limited’ project will help you manage the project better. Also try varying the ‘messaging intervals’ to understand what is the optimum time interval for sending consequent messages.
[Tweet “Why it is best to kickstart your beacon project with a small pilot”]
The most important aspect of running a pilot is to learn from it. Make sure you ask your volunteers for feedback – what they liked about their beacon experience and what they didn’t. Taking their feedback into account will help you go ahead with your full-blown beacon strategy with confidence.