Location Based Services (LBS) have been around for some time. Remember when you walked into a shopping centre and received text messages on your phone via Bluetooth as you walked past a particular store? Not surprisingly, they eventually drove us mad, so we all switched off our Bluetooth!
With widespread smartphone ownership, LBS have grown up and have been integrated into mobile applications. So no more spamming, customers have to give their permission to receive messages.
Beacons are now used to send these messages direct to customers, at the right time and most importantly in the right place. Beacons are a low cost piece of hardware which can be attached to a wall or countertop, they utilise a low energy Bluetooth connection to transmit messages or prompts directly to a smartphone or tablet and are set to transform how retailers, event organisers, travel operators and businesses in general communicate with potential customers indoors.
There are now three stages a customer must go through in order to receive a message via a Beacon. They must have Bluetooth switched on, they must accept location services on the relevant app and they must opt in to receive in store or indoor notifications. Sound like something you would do? It depends really, what value does the message have to the customer? Used at airports Beacons have the potential to keep passengers informed about flight delays. In shopping centres, customers can be attracted in store by a special offer. Given that half of adult shoppers already use their mobile phone when shopping as part of a ‘showrooming’ phenomenon; perhaps Beacon messages could drive us to actually make the purchase.
Then we have the Apple iBeacon, not a physical beacon…Apple have to go one step further don’t they! The Apple iBeacon is built into its devices and iOS7 mobile operating system. Third parties must have built Beacons that can send iBeacon messages to Apple devices.
2014 has seen the adoption of Beacon technology across America and in the UK with many retailers getting on board to test the latest technology. However there are a number of concerns that should be considered before getting on board…
- The cost to install equipment for scanning mobile coupons isn’t cheap
- How will you store your customers information so that competitors cannot get their hands on it – remembering that privacy is the top concern of mobile users considering signing up to marketing incentives.
- Keep an eye on PayPal and other companies looking to challenge Apple with their own hardware which may make it easier and cheaper to install long term.
- How are you going to persuade customers to go through the three step opt in process?
- How exactly will you add value to the in store experience without bombarding your customers with messages?
Undoubtedly Beacons are an exciting platform for delivering your marketing message, but there is still a long way to go before it is capable of delivering the truly personalised customer experience marketers are expecting.
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