Beacon technology is making shopping a more personalised experience, creating a connect between retailer and customer. It is enhancing the entire experience through personal engagement by leveraging technology. We discuss how beacon technology enhanced shopping experience and changes shopping habits
Picture a scenario where you walk into a store and you immediately receive a message on your smartphone welcoming you personally to the store. You walk forward and more messages come informing you about the latest deals centered around the products you wish to purchase. This is the basic premise of the beacon technology. There is much more that can be done which will completely revolutionize the way we shop. Furthermore, it is not a very expensive technology to adopt, hence small establishments can adopt with the same ease as big businesses. More importantly, the beacon-based apps are as relevant for small businesses as big ones, since they can cater to their customers directly and make new customers aware of their presence.
Brick n’ Mortar over eCommerce
Footfalls for brick n’ mortar stores are suffering when facing the rising giant, ecommerce. Beacon technology will enable brick n’ mortar stores to apply technology to give customers the personal touch and space that they enjoy with ecommerce shops. Intuitively designed applications and interactive websites coupled with same day shipping amplifies the attraction towards ecommerce stores. Retailers are struggling to increase footfalls to their stores, but by infusing technology, they can replicate ecommerce experience in the physical store. Bluetooth Low Energy appliances, better known as beacons, are an example of currently trending technologies in this direction. “Beacon” devices are placed across the stores, from which they contact sensors in customer’s smartphone to track them and send them push notifications and optimize retail operations.
BLE can also be used to analyze consumer behavior and optimize customer’s shopping experience. Currently, in-store implementation is limited, but there is potential for innovative applications by retailers to capture the market.
Beacon Technology in Brief
Beacons are low-powered radio transmitters that send signals to smartphones that enter within their set proximity. Bluetooth is used for such communication and it is currently being used largely for commercial purposes in retail sector and for managing events. Beacon is being used commercially to send personalized messages to consumers and improve their shopping experience. However, beacons must not be confused with GPS, though it may be on the way of replacing it. Beacon’s function lies between NFC (which is narrow) and GPS (Which is broad) ranges. Their best purpose is to detect and connect smart devices indoors while GPS is not as effective for close range specification.
What Studies Show
A study by Swirl, a beacon platform has found that 73% shoppers who received beacon-triggered message on their smartphone said it increased their likelihood of making purchase during a store visit. 61% respondents said that these messages prompted them to visit the store more often. Further, it suggested that the challenge lies in delivering relevant message at the right time to persuade customers to visit a specific retailer and to make a purchase when they are there. Retailers in their turn are ensuring that the message received is relevant and customers benefit from them. One respondent said that when she received a message stating that the product she is interested is available in the store, or sent reminder of her shopping list or recipes, she found it helpful, however, a string of messages sent in a similar line were bothersome and intrusive.
Browsing Guides and Recommenders
An accompanying application to browse the store aisles and send recommendations to customer is already being used by many stores. Mobile app developers are working on creating applications that will enable retailers to communicate with customers and analyze their physical shopping habits and receive offers and geo-fence enabled coupons. Furthermore, customers will have to download the retailer’s application which will improve brand loyalty and give them to interact with customers on a one-on-one basis even when they are not in the store. For big stores, this helps them to create a personal connect with customers in a way which can only be done by small stores. Smart displays that can sense metrics on browsing habits and shopping patterns are already being used to deliver personalized recommendations and assess product layouts.
The growth of wearable devices will add impetus to the implementation of such technologies. Customer transaction history is assessed and suggest-product bundles can be modeled and sent to them and even offer guided pathways through the store. Shopping theme can also be created for dieters, fitness enthusiasts, parties, new parents etc. augmented reality arrows can lead shoppers around the store.
The scope for creating a futuristic shopping experience, replicating the online shopping experience is unlimited. Drone technology can be used to facilitate free home deliveries for customers, and POS transactions can be made both cashless and cardless, while extending their functionalities. Beacon technology will largely alter shopping habits by making them personalized and speeding the process.
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