The iBeacon Revolution: Is it for Real or Just Hype?
Last Updated:  February 21, 2019
iBeacon technology has been a topic of prime focus ever since its launch by Apple in 2013. Its mere association with the Apple brand set the expectations high, before the technology could even evolve. Now within a span of two years, beacons have already created a niche space for themselves in a highly competitive market that has an array of location-based technologies. Inventive implementations of iBeacon technology is surprising many, given the capability of beacons to adapt to the needs of today’s consumers.
Of recent, there have been quite a few reports and posts suggesting that iBeacon technology has failed. Given various developments, and the impact of this technology we witnessed in 2015, such allegations seem to be impetuous. In this post, we have put together a few statistics and real-life implementations that will help you reasonably assess where beacons stand as of today. [Tweet “iBeacon: Hype or Reality?”] Without much ado, let’s take a look at the speculations around iBeacon technology and the current scenario.
1) Speculation: iBeacon technology has failed
Reality: The global iBeacon market is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 200.3% by 2019, according to a recent report by Research and Markets. This stat is a clear indication of the fact that iBeacon technology has not failed. Instead, it is growing at just the right pace as was expected by businesses in the beacon domain. A clear reflection of what the future holds for this technology can be seen in its impact on over 20 retail and non-retail verticals and the sheer number of large-scale beacon deployments that have been undertaken by well-known retail brands such Big W, Target, Macy’s and so on. In fact, it has grown beyond its “only-meant-for-advertising” perception, as we witnessed a lot of inventive beacon use cases this year, especially in healthcare and home automation. For instance, the cardiology department of Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), Netherlands, is using beacons to track the amount of time it takes for cardiac-arrest patients to receive a balloon angioplasty treatment. [Tweet ” What does the future hold for iBeacon technology?”]
2) Speculation: Few retailers are interested in beacons or plan to try it in near future Reality: A recent study conducted by IHL Group shows that the percentage of tier 1 retailers projected to adopt beacons will grow from 37% in 2015 to 56% by the end of 2016. One of the primary reasons behind why retailers are aggressively looking to leverage beacons, is the rising demand for personalization from consumers. Today, it is becoming increasingly essential for brands to reach out to their hyper-connected consumers, with the right message, at the right place, and at the right time. Reports show that individual retail orders at Beacon OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) have gone from 100s to 10,000s in the last 6 months. This clearly indicates that chain-wide deployments are now imminent. Image source: blog.beaconmaker 2015 saw major retailers such as, Tesco, Target and Big W join the beacon bandwagon, and major brands like IKEA, H&M, Topshop, McDonald’s and Carrefour openly discuss trials of in-store technologies. Other retailers like Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, Alex and Ani, Urban Outfitters, and Kenneth Cole had already begun their tryst with beacons in 2014.
3) Speculation: Beacons are failing to inspire customers Reality: Zebra 2015 Global Shopper study found that more than half of the customers are interested in location-based services. 51% of customers were curious about mobile coupons, 45% of customers in shopping maps, and 41% of customers in associate assistance. Image source: geomarketing Customers accept that the likelihood of them purchasing a product after getting a notification about the product is higher. Also, these notifications can be customised based on a customer’s purchase history, wish list, and browsing pattern. Push notifications can also be sent to customers who are close to stores to entice them to come in by offering special promotions. Market statistics show that this kind of messaging is effective as 53% of customers would want to share their current location to receive relevant ads, while 57% customers are more likely to engage with location-based advertising. [Tweet “How beacons benefit both consumers and businesses”]
4) Speculation: iBeacon technology is not ubiquitous yet
Reality: On a worldwide scale, there are more than 400 million activated iOS devices preloaded with iBeacon technology. There are already some very large and successful beacon networks that have been established by companies such as Sensoro (with 110,000 beacons) and SK Telecom (with over 10,000 beacons). In addition, with companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google joining in, beacons will soon be ubiquitous. Image source: marketingland With its 1.3 billion members, Facebook could easily expand the list of popular beacon use cases, by using it to determine if a customer saw a product’s ad online and then paid a visit to a physical store to purchase the product. This would help in making ads more personal and relevant. Further, Google’s launch of Eddystone, a protocol for open-source beacons, has enabled businesses in more ways as it “supports multiple frame types for different use cases”. Another giant, Twitter, joined Google and Facebook on the beacon bandwagon, when its investment arm became a strategic investor in one of the beacon platform companies. [Tweet “Google, Facebook, Twitter join Apple’s iBeacon”]
5) Speculation: Beacons are a spam fad Reality: 59% retailers identify lack of consumer insights as their top data-related pain point. One of the primary reasons behind why beacons are popularly known for aiding push notifications is personalization. As it has gained priority, retailers have been looking to offer tailor-made services to their customers. However, this turns out to be a difficult task because most brands lack data on consumer insights. Retailers are, therefore, using beacons for data analytics and business intelligence, so they can accordingly strategize their services for customers. Image source: mobilemarketingmagazine Beacons when used properly can help retailers customize a customer’s experience according to his/her behavioural pattern, which in turn helps boost sales and gain customer loyalty. Two of the most successful and impressive beacon deployments of 2015, by Elle and Coca-Cola, used inventive methods of advertising over traditional methods. Elle’s beacon powered campaign drove 500,000 retail store visits while Coca-Cola saw a massive 300x uplift in terms of ad engagement.
[Tweet “How Elle used beacons inventively to drive 500,000 retail store visits “] iBeacon technology has easily passed the stage of being a possible fad. The impact of beacons on our daily lives is undeniable. According to a Business Insider report, beacons are expected to influence $44 billion worth of the US retail sales by 2016. Statistics such as these clearly indicate that beacons definitely hold a lot of promise for 2016! If you have a take on iBeacon technology, share it in the comments section below! [Tweet “How Coca-Cola saw a massive 300x uplift in ad engagements via beacons”]
If you are planning a beacon pilot, here is a step by step guide to planning and deploying a successful pilot. Also, 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!