5 Best Beacon Projects and What They Could Have Done Better
October 15, 2015
That Internet of Things (IoT) is fast becoming reality than most of us could ever comprehend, is not news any longer. According to a recent report by Juniper Research, retailers seeking to capitalise on IoT (Internet of Things) technologies are predicted to spend an estimated $2.5 billion in hardware and installation costs, of which a major part of the investment will be for beacons and RFID (Radio Frequency ID) tags. IoT has caused such a huge wave of disruption across industries, that any business that hesitates to develop and execute an IoT strategy will soon end up opening the doors for competitors to swoop in and capture early IoT mindshare and market share.
This is one of the main reasons why businesses across various verticals right from restaurant chains like Pizza Hut to transportation bodies like Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to airports like New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, have been busy trying to integrate iBeacon technology with their marketing strategy. However, inspite of all the hype around beacons, there is little or no actionable information on how to put beacons to use or how to plan your beacon pilot. And in their haste to catch up to the hype most businesses just rush through their pilot without taking much time to think it through.
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.
We have already discussed in detail about things that brands need to keep in mind when running an iBeacon campaign and common pitfalls that brands run into while planning a beacon project. In this blog we will discuss about a few brands that are doing beacons right, along with a few tips on what else they could have done to make a bigger impact.
So let’s get started.
1. Kew Gardens leveraged beacons to push information to visitors
Kew Gardens recently leveraged beacons to allow visitors to explore the country garden by unlocking a host of facts and activities as they passed by the beacons which were hidden across the Ardingly estate. Visitors who downloaded the Discover Kew mobile app could unlock more than 50 beacons hidden across 500 hectares in Ardingly, allowing them to take part in hands-on challenges and receive detailed information about the plants around them.
Most visitors at the Kew Gardens use their 3G/4G to download the Discover Kew app when they see the advertising prompts. Having a free, easy to connect to Visitor WiFi offer which redirects to a page advertising the app could considerably help Kew at driving downloads at the venue.
Also, the 3G/4G connection in the glasshouses and galleries at Kew Gardens can be patchy, while it’s highly critical for a mobile app that is interacting with beacons to have a fast data connection. The best solution to this would be to provide frictionless visitor Wi-Fi at the Kew Gardens. This way, aided by analytics on usage and connection, the venue could use geofences to entice people to specific locations within the Gardens and use beacons to provide the micro level interactions (relevant, timely and high quality piece of information) and analytics. This will not only allow Kew Gardens to constantly gain insights into what is working for their visitors and what needs improvement but will also help them make the most of available commercial opportunities.
This is a good example of how Wi-Fi and iBeacon (Bluetooth Low Energy) technology, inspite of the differences between them, work best when they are used together.
2. Macy’s leveraged beacons to push offers to customers
Image Source: techcrunch.com
Last September, following their beacon trials in New York and San Francisco, Macy’s expanded its beacon program to all stores nationwide, by installing more than 4,000 beacons in its stores. The campaign leveraged Shopkick app to push promotions, deals or discounts to users once they entered store.
How they could have done better –
The first and foremost thing that Macy’s could have done better is leveraged their own app rather than using third party rewards and deals app such as Shopkick. Not only would it help them enhance brand perception and user experience but also give them full ownership of how they market (using optimally refined and targeted content), sell to and manage their customers. Unless your app lacks widespread distribution it is always best to kickstart your beacon pilot with your own app. We have discussed a few tips on how retailers could drive more app downloads in one of our earlier blogs.
3. Major League Baseball stadium (MLB) used beacons to enhance stadium experience
Image Source: mashable.com
MLB leveraged beacons via its ‘At the Ballpark’ app to provide users with an interactive game watching experience at the stadium. As a part of this beacon campaign, MLB installed beacons at 20 ballparks around the U.S. to provide spectators with maps, concession info, video clips and the ability to upgrade their seat. For example, when a user who has downloaded the app on his smartphone walks by the entrance, the app would display the barcode of his ticket and direct him to his seat via a map while highlighting the nearby points of interest. Other prominent beacon-enabled features included offering fans directions to the shortest lines, both at the entrance and at the concession stands. It also allowed teams to track the visits made by their fans thus enabling them to reward fans with special coupons and discounts for their frequent visits.
How they could have done better –
There are many more interesting ways as to how stadiums like MLB can leverage beacons to establish a direct relationship with all the fans at the venue. For example, MLB could use beacons to introduce audience polls to offer an enhanced interactive experience. MLB could also leverage beacons to allow visitors to gain insights on the live traffic conditions in the immediate areas around the sports venue. This kind of beacon usage will not only benefit the visitors but also those who are not attending the game, as it will distribute vehicular traffic near the stadium more rationally and lessen the chance of traffic jams.
4. Virgin Atlantic leveraged beacons to personalize passenger journey
Image Source: ibeaconsblog.com
Virgin Atlantic trialed beacons in the Upper Class Wing at Terminal 3 of the Heathrow airport. As a part of this campaign, beacons were used to push personalized notifications and offers to premium passengers via their iPhone. For example, the beacons at the checkpoint were used to load the boarding pass on mobile screen as the Upper Class passengers approached the checkpoint.
How they could have done better –
One of the other ways in which Virgin Atlantic could have put iBeacon technology to use would be to track and improve the efficiency of its gate agents. For example, beacons installed at each of the boarding gates in the terminal could be used to pinpoint the location of the airline’s boarding gate staff. Further they could even integrate beacons with smartwatches, so that each member of staff (wearing a smartwatch) could be assigned tasks based on their exact location.
Another interesting use case Virgin Atlantic could try was to leverage beacons to track the location of travelers’ phones in order to measure wait times at security checkpoints, customs areas and even the taxi queue. This kind of a monitoring system could provide management staff with the ability to ultimately reduce processing times in security and customs lines.
5. American Eagle Outfitters used beacons to lure customers into fitting rooms
Image Source: geomarketing.com
American Eagle Outfitters leveraged beacons to deliver push notifications via the Shopkick app to successfully draw more customers into fitting rooms. As a part of this campaign, the brand placed a beacon at the front entrance and in the fitting room of each trial store. When a customer with the Shopkick app entered the store, the beacon sensed their smartphone’s presence via Bluetooth, and triggered Shopkick to display a message offering 25 extra kicks (Shopkick’s rewards currency) if they tried something on in a fitting room.
One of the weak points of this campaign is that it leveraged beacons to target in-store customers alone. Instead they could extend its impact by deploying beacons at the parking lot or at the entrance (this is particularly useful for engaging shoppers who walk by the store, with offers or discount coupons that could lure them in). For example American Eagle Outfitters could integrate beacons with CRM to target loyalty program customers with notifications asking them to check out the new denim arrivals and so on. Of course the basic requirement for this would be that the brand should leverage beacons using their own app and not a third party app like Shopkick.
Though, beacons are popularly known for pushing offers and discounts there’s more to them. For example, American Eagle Outfitters could use beacons to collect massive amounts of untapped data such as the number of beacon hits and customer dwell time at beacons within a specified time and date range, busiest hours throughout the day or week etc., and accordingly to optimize store layouts and product placement based on navigational patterns.
Are there any other beacon projects that you think could have done better ? Let us know in the comments below.
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!