We are fast approaching the busiest shopping season of the year and retailers are already neck-deep in their marketing and sales efforts, to engage and entice customers. Year after year, marketers work towards providing shoppers with a variety of promotions, from festive coupons, flash sales, free shipping to combo offers, festive games and the latest shopping guides.
Mobile is a huge influencer in today’s retail experience and customers are using their phones for a multitude of reasons, from product comparisons to value added services (like contactless payments). However, a majority of shopping still happens in-store. According to a recent study by Forrester Research, 84 percent of consumers use their smartphones while shopping in stores, but a lot fewer complete their purchase on a mobile device. Which is why keeping in mind the customer’s digital and physical intercepts is essential while drafting a close knit marketing plan this holiday season. With the help of iBeacon technology, it is possible to develop a contextual, personal and hyper local marketing strategy in order to reach the customer as he/she moves through various touch points.
According to Swirl, 73 percent of shoppers said that beacon-triggered content and offers increased the likelihood to purchase during their store visit. Both small and big retailers are using beacons to drive their holiday marketing efforts. Leading retailer, Macy’s is currently offering a beacon triggered in-store mobile game called ‘ Walk In and Win game’ to its shoppers in order to boost its Black Friday sales.
With many businesses aiming to use beacons as part of their holiday marketing efforts, here is a quick guide on how to execute a beacon strategy –
1. Build your mobile app strategy
As the very first step, it is extremely important for you to understand your mobile app. App goals should be cohesive with the overall business goals and it can vary depending upon the nature and stage of the business. Popular examples of app goals include growing brand awareness to increasing customer engagement to garnering repeat customers.
Mobile app strategy hence is the backbone of every beacon strategy. You can read our blog for a complete guide on building a strong mobile app strategy.
Walmart recently launched a mobile app with the goal of providing shoppers an easy and seamless shopping experience. As part of the mobile experience, Walmart extended services like in-store pick up and scan and shop with wish lists.
2. Use iBeacon technology in your app
Once you have analysed your business metrics and built a mobile/app strategy, you can then plan to build a beacon enabled app (or add iBeacon technology) to your existing app.
Capabilities and limitations of the technology and your customers behavioural preferences are two of the most important aspects to be kept in mind while developing your beacon app. iBeacon technology allows for highly contextual content that can be relayed to the user at the most opportune moment; these can range from pushing holiday coupons, in-store navigation support to holiday event check-ins in malls, in-store pickup and contactless payments.
While tapping on the technology’s capabilities, it is also recommended to factor in the roadblocks that you may encounter. Signal interference and lack of access to the customers bluetooth network are some of the most common problems faced by retailers. You can find out more about overcoming such problems in our blog on beacon app hacks.
Keeping in mind the consumer behaviour and preferences is also key to app retention. Retailers can complement their in-app efforts with other marketing efforts like sending emails and using digital signages to drive adoption.
3. Tap on beacon networks
If you don’t have an app or plan to invest in building one, the best bet is to tap on beacon networks or third party beacon apps . Beacon networks is one of easiest ways to reach a large audience in a short span of time. In this case, you can deploy beacons in your store and leverage a 3rd party app to listen to those beacons, send push notifications and collect data
Key areas that you should take note while using a beacon network are the popularity (and adoption) of the app and the terms and conditions with regards to the data ownership (specific to your business). It is always advisable to agree on mutual data ownership with the third party app, as the data mined can be used for strengthening your customer knowledge, online marketing and omni-channel strategy.
A quick and easy way to drive store sales this holiday season is to use popular couponing third party apps. For instance, Zikit – a flash deal app allows retailers to push personalised, flash deals to customers (which is valid only for the duration that the shopper is in the store). Zikit also offers analytics about the customers in-store behaviour, which can be used for all future campaigns.
4. Leverage PassBook
Another way to push contextual notifications to the user is by leveraging Apple’s PassBook. PassBook is a utility application on iOS devices which has the ability to tie-in with iBeacon technology. The primary advantage here is that, it does not require customers to download a third-party app. They can just add a store-specific pass or loyalty card to their Passbook and once in-store, you can detect a user’s location using beacons to trigger various messages and offers through their ‘Passbook’. This will save you the hassle of creating your own app.
One of the primary reasons for deploying a beacon strategy is to precisely understand customer behaviour. The insights and data gathered will help construct solid organisational strategies that would lead to boosting the overall branding and sales of your business.
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!