According to statista, the retail e-commerce sales that amounted to 2.3 trillion US dollars is expected to grow to 4.88 trillion by 2021. With e-commerce industry progressing at such a high pace, it is not just the number of customers that is increasing, but the competitors too. In this scenario, it is inevitable to find out unique ways of marketing to outstand your competition. Incorporating Beacon technology in your marketing plan is one of the better ways to differentiate and compete.
What is a beacon?
A beacon is a small, low-powered transmitter equipped with Bluetooth Low Energy or BLE, that can be used to deliver proximity-based, context-aware messages.
These Bluetooth beacons work like lighthouses. Instead of transmitting light, they transmit BLE signals which could be a combination of characters and numbers. A Bluetooth-enabled smartphone in the range of the beacon receives these signals and displays notifications attached to it.
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With the rapid growth of the e-commerce industry, traditional retailers with physical stores have also begun to invest heavily in this channel. The beacon use-cases for e-commerce diverge into two broad categories:
- Category-1: e-commerce only businesses that have minimal to no physical presence eg: Amazon
- Category-2: Traditional retailers who have physical stores and have also invested in e-commerce Eg: Walmart.
Beacon use cases in e-commerce only businesses
Here are a few ways to use beacon technology in this category:
- Send welcome offers: Leverage beacons in public places like traffic signals and shopping malls to inform customers about your welcome offers encouraging them to download your app.
- Send links related to your printed advertisements: Employ beacons near your billboards to send the links to claim the particular offer or buy the specific product displayed on the Billboard. It would be more like a digital CTA for your physical advertisements.
- Wake up the app: Studies show that 80 to 90% of the apps in an average Android user’s phone are just used once before being uninstalled. You can avoid this by employing beacons in public places to wake up the app even if it is not running.
- Bridge the gap between the various shopping channels: Almost all e-businesses are going omnichannel to sell their products. Beacon technology can bridge all the channels. You can use the data gathered from various channels to get a clear insight of what the customer wants and send them relevant promotions.
Beacon use-cases for retailers with physical stores and e-commerce
If you are a business like Walmart that sell both in stores and online, the applications of beacon technology expands. Here are a few recommended use-cases in addition to what has been discussed above:
- Get customers in stores download your app: You can send personalized info like a welcome note with their name and invite customers when they are in the vicinity off your store. You can also notify customers about your sale, offers, and discounts or a price-fall of the items in their cart or wish list. Using the app’s browsing data, you can find out what the user has been researching and navigate the user to those particular products in the store. Such a degree of personalization would certainly entice the customers to enter the store.
- Encourage offline customers to download the app: Once the customer enters the store, beacons can broadcast offers and information about each item in the closest proximity. When you send a notification that informs the customer about the discount sale that is only available online, the customer will likely download the app.
- Learn more about your customers: Using beacons, you can do many things that you can’t do just with the app, example: “understanding the customer’s in-store experience.” Beacon technology makes it possible for businesses to learn about footfall patterns, entry and exit data, time spent in the store, time spent in a particular section, sections of the store that the customer did not visit, repetition of visits, etc. You can use these data to understand the customer better and make your app more personalized.
- Don’t lose customers when merchandises go out of stock: When a particular product goes out of stock in the store but is available in the app, you can use beacons to help customers with the link of the online platform where it is available.
- Encourage app download by easing digital payments: Most of the customers prefer to making payments using their smartphones as they don’t have to carry their wallet everywhere. Though apps like Apple pay and Samsung pay ease digital payments, they have the limitation of being device specific. Beacon-based payment apps are phone agnostic, making it accessible to any smartphone user. You can use this feature in your stores to encourage customers to download your app.
If you are planning to try out beacons, 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!