Beacons are a low-cost piece of hardware — small enough to attach to a wall or countertop — that use battery-friendly, low-energy Bluetooth connections to transmit messages or prompts directly to a smartphone or tablet.” Business Insider. How does it work? Shoppers need to have downloaded your app (or a third party app) to receive and respond to the beacon signal. You choose how wide you set the range.
In-store Beacons have proved to be particularly effective in the US, driving brand engagement and driving an increase in purchases. They also provide retailers with useful information about who uses their stores – eg, their age, gender and what they looked at.
Over a 30-day period in April-May 2014:
- Interactions with advertised products increased by 19 times for users who received a beacon message.
- In-store app usage was 16.5 times greater for users who received a beacon message.
- Shoppers who received a beacon message were 6.4 times more likely to keep an app on their phone, versus those who did not.
It’s not just retailers trialling beacon technology… Pure plays are also getting in on the action. Vouchercodes parent company RetailMeNot is trialling Beacon technology in US malls – working with retailers to drive people into stores with relevant voucher codes.
UK retailers are still pretty wary about Beacon technology! However, several retailers such as Mothercare, Tesco and Waitrose are all undertaking or planning trials of the technology.
Mothercare hopes to use the technology “To engage with customers, rather than for promotional messages.” Tesco plans to launch a new Clubcard app. Waitrose is testing Beacon technology in its concept store in Swindon, trialling marketing messages to extend its relationships with customers beyond the checkout. House of Fraser is also engaging with customers when they approach mannequins in their Aberdeen store. It is also trialling the technology in their shop windows, so people can ‘shop around the clock’.
Customers can choose to turn off the settings on their mobile, keep the app closed and keep Bluetooth switched off. Ultimately, your customers decide if they engage with you. The retailer’s greatest challenge is encouraging people to download and engage with the application that contains the Beacon connection.
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