Consumer behavior and expectations have changed the way brick-and-mortar managers view their store. Shoppers can choose from online, offline, mobile, and confusing mixtures like physical Amazon stores or online delivery for nearby, local stores--it gets exhausting. As Esri’s Gary Sankary notes,

“Consumer behavior and expectations have changed drastically and stores simply haven’t kept up.”

Shoppers know that modern shops are not yet super-connected smart stores with automated purchasing, smart carts and aisles. However, the snowballing success of efforts like Amazon Go shows that such technology is becoming available and shoppers want it. Consumer behavior can’t be studied or viewed in the same way it has for decades, because shoppers have much higher expectations. As a result, shop owners will also have to be much more resourceful, adaptable, and fast moving.
Given the opportunity of technology to change retail, future winners in the space won’t just be those with long-standing audiences and large bank accounts. They will be the companies who can leverage technology correctly and jump in front of the line, and this has already begun to happen. Many small companies have gained initial traction through smarter advertising and analyzing, and it will only grow increasingly common as consumer expectations soar.

IoT for consumer behavior has often failed

Despite the influx of technology into the physical retail sphere, much of it has simply come and gone. This has only added to the confusion managers face about retail technology. What technology do customers want? What will add to the actual bottom line? As has been pointed out by our product manager, technology is useless...when leveraged incorrectly.
Thus, retailers must seek out not just any technological solutions but solutions that offer sustainable, incremental returns.

Understanding consumer behavior

The first ingredient in a healthy consumer behavior analysis solution is data, but even data has its downsides. As retailers quickly learned since “big data” first got popular a few years ago, data must be useful. It must be analyzed in order to have any meaning. Retailers need not just any data but also a proper method for data analysis in place.
For brick-and-mortar stores, the perhaps easiest type of data to make use of is location data. Understanding shopper movements in a physical store can offer layer after layer of insight. Beginning with where bottlenecks occur or how to best allot staff and even leading to more complicated solutions to keep consumers in the area longer.
For solution providers, this means building apps and infrastructures that are easy to manage and derive value from.

Capturing consumer behavior data

Generating data will require some form of infrastructure to track shoppers' in-store movements. Here’s where Bluetooth makes a difference. For years, Bluetooth beacons have been touted as the next generation of on-site ad delivery. When a customer comes close to a beacon, their phone receives a relevant ad. However useful this singular use case is, it’s not exactly the long-term incremental gains retailers will require to succeed over time.
Bluetooth, however, is affordable and ubiquitous enough that retail owners can invest in an infrastructure at a relatively low associated cost and risk.
Interestingly, there are also many ways to use beacons to understand consumer behavior. While shopper data can be generated through interaction with ads or wayfinding it can also be generated through more complex solutions like smart shopping carts.

Generating shopper data through app usage

Most commonly talked about these days is the beacon-powered app. In this scenario, a downloadable app tracks shopper behavior using both the app and beacon-powered location data.
One incredible example is the Les Terasses Du Port shopping app. Downloaded over 69,650 times. With a whopping 18 minutes average view time, this app is so useful that shoppers are happy to download and connect. Of course, while delivering directions, ads, and info to shoppers, the app also collects data about dwell times and movements. By aggregating this data, the mall was able to identify their biggest blocker to more purchases and higher dwell times: the food court.
The mall's current food court was too small, and by adding more options the mall increased dwell times of all customers who visited an anchor store by 42%.
(It's a great story. Read more here.)
The beauty of these solutions is their flexibility. Whether you’re one store, a strip mall, or a whole downtown area, you can better visualize and understand shopper behavior. All you may need is more beacons.

Smart stores: the easy entry to consumer behavior data

Other stores go all-in, and the result is a solution reminiscent of Amazon Go. Here, solution providers are creating complete infrastructures to connect customers to the cloud for the entirety of their in-store journey.
For example, Finnish SmartCart uses technology to make the traditional shopping cart even better. Their carts allowed shoppers to find recipes, view the retailer’s complete list of offerings, make lists, and--in the future--check out fast. 70% of purchasing decisions are made in-store. What might seem like a routine shop for customers is actually an opportunity for store owners to sell more, better, and think about the long term.
The results? 6% of shoppers who viewed a targeted message purchased the advertised product. More importantly, 84% of their users planned to use SmartCart again. That means businesses can easily create and track this data over time. It’s not simply about getting users to click and buy. It’s about driving a long-term system where the customer is happy to engage and generate data.

Will customers like being tracked? The importance of opting in

Beacon-powered apps offer incredible possibilities when customers are willing to opt in. So how do you get shoppers to opt in? What makes a visitor happy to share data? Unfortunately, brands are data-hungry and willing to do almost anything to get their hands on visitor data. The problem is, customers need to also be on board.
An increase in connected solutions also means an increase in the number and stringency of data laws. Consumer behavior must be tracked in a way that makes users feel safe or there will be backlash. This is one of the biggest advantages of beacons for the long haul. Neither businesses nor consumers should be left wondering whether a data collection method is ethical or socially acceptable. As data becomes currency, customers will be increasingly ready to hand over their behavior information in exchange for useful, reliable solutions that aid in their shopper journey. The onus falls on the business and solution provider to make sure they meet expectations.

How does a world-famous magazine use proximity marketing to impact brick-and-mortar retailers? With over 800 locations and even more Bluetooth beacons, ELLE turns clicks into real in-store visits and purchases.
Click here for the complete ELLE campaign report, strategy, tips and tricks
ShopAdvisor and RetailMeNot are staple apps for shoppers, promo lovers, and brand enthusiasts. Their users already love the deals, so how could they attract a greater audience and shake up the way consumers view them? ELLE readers are a different breed. They use ELLE to get the latest trends, insights, and editorials.

How did they use proximity marketing?

They had 803 different shopping locations across the US outfitted Bluetooth beacons. These beacons gave the two apps proximity data in order to send more targeted, timely messages to users. Now, instead of simply saying “check out this new offer!” the app could combine a user’s past history with your exact location to deliver deals they would really enjoy.
Get the complete guide to proximity marketing with Bluetooth beacons

The results

Alexandra Carlin, VP of Public Relations at Hearst Magazines, praised the project, saying:

"Thanks to beacons & the platform we were able to gain tremendous insight into the optimal mix of content and location necessary to drive conversion."

In the end, the program wasn't just about getting visits. It was creating a scaleable system based on data. With proximity, the apps were able to achieve higher Click-through rates, more in-store visits, and actual end purchases. Surprisingly, even with only four major retail chains involved, ELLE was able to make real changes to a long-standing, seemingly hard to digitalize, industry.


Enjoyed this article? Want to learn more about ELLE's strategy, and find out how to take your new marketing campaign to the next level? Make sure to check out this complete ELLE campaign report.

Can beacons bring new opportunities with big data for retail? Numbers indicate we may see beacons in retail driving more data soon.
Retailers around the world are still learning how to work with data. Since the introduction of modern data analytics in the 1990s, the market has been preparing for technology to change the way we do business. Data analytics, of course, are not new. What is changing, however, are the possibilities of data analytics. The IoT means increased data generation, and retailers in particular are set to win big—or at least see big changes. Data means smarter campaigns, smarter resource management, and endless personalization for communications with customers.
learn how to generate value with beacon data
Personalization with data is changing the way we shop. One study found: "Personalized email messages improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%."

What's holding retailers and proximity marketers back?
It's clear that big data in retail is no laughing matter. Unfortunately, it's not always easy to manage. Despite years of talk, many companies have yet to walk the walk, and there are several important reasons for this.
One reason retailers are not yet ready to play with big data is the cost and investment. How should retailers capture data? How should they efficiently plug data into their existing business? And how should they create a truly omnichannel marketing system? Despite the hype, excitement, and genuine possibilities, retailers must be prepared to answer all these questions before moving forward.

How beacons in retail work

Bluetooth beacons are an incredibly hot buzz word these days. Big data, IoT, beacons—retailers want all of it. However, many retailers don’t quite understand how beacons even work. The beacon hardware is exceedingly simple. It broadcasts a single message at regular intervals that is then picked up by Bluetooth-enabled devices. This message is nothing special. In fact, it’s more or less just the ID number, indicating which beacon it is. The real magic happens elsewhere.
Key terms for using data and beacons in retail:
Advertising Identifier (IDFA) is a unique ID for iOS devices
Advertising ID is an ID provided by Google Play services
Both of these identifiers achieve the same results—tracking users from the digital to physical worlds. Think of them like a cutting-edge cookie. They track actions not only online but across devices and even in apps. Luckily for solution providers, there’s not much difference between the two fundamentally. Most importantly, these consistent IDs make it much easier for businesses or developers to interact and understand data.
Then, there’s Attribution. Attribution is about understanding exactly who is receiving a message. Instead of just throwing a message out into the wild, or knowing only that it went to faceless, nameless, altogether information-less user is a very way short-term of thinking. Attribution tells the app or program manager who is receiving what messages and whether they’re interacting with messages. Attributing interaction (or lack thereof) to specific users in specific spaces creates the kind of data that can prove whether an ad is working. Now, you can begin to see exactly what makes a message successful and what can be improved.
Solution providers design the apps and platforms that make this location information valuable. With the beacon’s identification information, an app can recognize that the user is located in the make-up section or at the exit. Again, very basic data. It’s combining all these little points into Big Data that creates insights.
start Optimizing data collection and usage
Knowing that your customer entered, received and engaged with a personalized promotion on mobile is a pretty interesting data point. So what happens next? Did your users go straight for the promoted product? Did they completely ignore it? Did many similarly grouped users buy the same product? All these little data points add up to insight for retailers. But it’s up to solution providers to find out what data is valuable and how to capture, store, and display it. It’s up to these innovative companies and start-ups to turn data into the footfall metrics and heatmaps described above.


This proximity data is what makes beacons irreplaceable. Other methods of data tracking simply cannot compile location data in the same way. Thomas Walle, CEO of proximity data platform Unacast, explains to Marketing Land:

“The data is 100 percent deterministic and we can understand what people have been doing inside stores, in specific departments and interacted with different products. This granularity does [not exist] at Facebook, Google or any other company.”

Real beacons in retail case study:

How one startup found food was key to driving returns
Startup Favendo installed beacons in the popular Les Terrasses du Port shopping center in Marseille. With 190 shops, the mall had plenty of untapped data for the beacons to illuminate.
For customers, the app used push notifications to make shopping more enjoyable. For business in the mall, the app meant insight into how customers moved both in individual retailers and around the space in general. Uptake has been key to driving results. Downloaded over 69,650 times and boasting an average 18 minute view time, the app effectively captured data points on how users moved.
72% of shoppers who stopped to eat kept shopping
Through data analysis, managers saw that too many shoppers were exiting the mall after visiting a handful of anchor stores. Other shoppers, however, would stop for a snack. Of these who stopped, 72% would continue shopping.
Looking closer, they found food options in the mall were often packed at peak times, driving away would-be diners and shoppers. Their response? Make more space in the food court. This increased dwell times of all customers who visited the anchor store by 42%.

Beacons in Retail mean personalization

Personalized promotions are the bread-and-butter of beacon popularity. Customers expect personalization, and an increasing number of studies are finding that users are willing to swap data for better experiences. One study from Salesforce surveyed over 7,000 customers and had absolute unbelievable findings.

“If customers don't receive the level of customization they expect, they won't hesitate to shop around. More than half (52%) of consumers are somewhat likely to switch brands if a company doesn't make an effort to personalize their communications to them.”

That’s it. Customers simply won’t stick around if they don’t feel brands and retailers are living up to their expectations. More importantly, with all the options and successful personalized campaigns out there, these shoppers will find what they’re looking for.
Beacons enable the connection of offline and online data as well as the chance to streamline omnichannel marketing tactics.
A study from Experian found that personalized promotion messages received a 29% higher open rate and 41% higher click rate.
check these 5 steps to generate value with beacons

How beacons drive personalization in proximity marketing

It’s all about the app. Again, solution providers are key when it comes to providing value with beacon data in retail. It’s the platform that will connect a user’s past purchases and online shopping persona with their real-world location.
Segmenting is key. 35-40 years old female shoppers who saved the same item in their online basket are drastically different from other segments, and they should receive messages that reflect their needs. If social authentication is required, that’s yet another key ingredient to personalized communications.
Data on these repeat customers is also the most valuable for retailers. A major study from BIA/Kelsey and Manta found that, of companies surveyed, 61% earned more than half their revenue from repeat customers. These repeat customers also spent 67% more than new customers.
What does this mean for retailers?
Retailers are installing hundreds of thousands of beacons. A recent Proxbook Report found that data monetization and proximity retargeting are continuing as the fastest growing proximity services. IBM found that 62% of retailers report analytics and data as a competitive advantage for their company. Industry guru Stephen Statler estimated expected US retailers to purchase over a million beacons in 2016 for deployment. The only real question is how solution providers will fit into the scene. Beacon data and capabilities are increasingly coveted by retailers and managers, so how can solution providers craft apps to get the most of data? Which companies and platforms will be successful and how will they surprise us?

How retailers can use data from beacons in retail

Data analytics have been a major start-up topic for some years now. After many quarters in the spotlight, there are two key points most businesses can agree: first, big data, when properly leveraged, can be indispensable; second, big data can easily be misused.
It’s easy to misunderstand the role of data. Given the title “big data,” many instantly think the more data, the better. But this isn’t the case. It’s crucial that any businesses looking to use beacons in retail for data purposes first define what makes data valuable.
Does your data:

What’s the real goal of your data?
Collecting data that just fills up silos (whether because it’s not important or not usable) is a waste of time and resources. There are three key ways to reuse beacon data in a retail setting: in-store optimization, retargeting, and monetization. Each of these is very different and may require different kinds of data. For example, to optimize store layout, you may need to understand how customers move. To retarget users, you’ll need to know a little about their history. To monetize, you’ll have to be ready to work with other brands. Many of these companies who deal in monetization will have specific requirements.
Driving users
Beacons are in an unusual position. Many managers are left wondering: are consumers ready for them? Oftentimes, store visitors don’t see value in beacon technology, and that isn’t their fault. There are hugely successful and less-than-successful beacon campaigns in retail, and this is a problem businesses must address before moving forward. Marcin Kasz explained this perfectly for Proximity.Directory:

“Bluetooth beacons are not a cure-all. They are also not a superfluous channel to push tired marketing efforts. However, the blocker with beacons in retail is very seldom the technology; the problem is almost always the business model.”
Marcin Kasz

If businesses want to use beacons in retail to engage customers, they must begin by solving a problem. As the shoppers at Les Terrasses du Port demonstrated, there is always a way retailers can better themselves. As popular as the shopping destination was, visitors had needs that were going unmet, and they tuned in to beacons because they were useful. Companies are achieving incredible success with beacons because they put the user first and offered solutions their users would actually use. Many retailing apps are simply out of date and not fit for modern user expectations. It’s not up to users to find value in apps and then download them. Retailers must show users that the apps are worthwhile.
In short: know your beacon strategy, and know your data strategy.

Retailers using beacons in 2017, 2018, and beyond

When beacons first appeared on the retail scene several years ago, there was an explosion of interest. There were huge success stories splashed across magazine covers and incredible stories of high-tech interactions with shoppers. Many of the possible use cases for beacons in retail have already been tested. Almost everything has been done, and retailers now have magnitude of options to pull from. This year, stores are realizing that the real value of Bluetooth in their shops and storefronts is the possibility of long-term returns.
Data is emerging as a new, primary driver of value in the retail industry. Walle, when interviewed for our white paper on beacon data, put it this way:

“With beacons, there is an overfocus on in-store experience. With notifications, you get one magical moment and that’s it. But the real value is when [businesses] understand it’s a data capturing tool.”

There’s no doubt that users will continue to find value in push notifications, indoor navigation, and other use cases in their local stores. However, it’s time for managers to begin thinking long-term and take hold of the data they generate every day.

Card Beacon could be the smartest card in your employee's or customer's wallet. Here's how to use it.
Cards play a huge role in almost every market. Employees use them to authenticate or track entry and exit. Consumers use them to track loyalty points and engage with retailers. If these cards are so important, why do we use inferior technology?
Shoppers are still stuck with annoying paper cards that are easily lost and incredibly limited in the amount of information presented. Employees have to use laminated IDs or NFC-only IDs that require scanning in order to function. That’s why we made the Card Beacon.

The credit card-sized Card Beacon can include either an RFID or NFC tag and run up to 14 months with power saving enabled. It also includes a motion sensor and a range of 50 meters. The result? An easy-to-integrate and even easier to use card for all kinds of situations.
The Card Beacon gives businesses three revolutionary capabilities for an affordable price:

Let's break it down. Here are six places solution providers should be looking to add Card Beacon.

Events

When was the last time you saw an ID badge that was revolutionary? Conferences rely on these simple tools to connect and manage visitors. Card Beacon is the same size as any other card. But unlike any other card, it could help managers and planners finally understand how visitors move. Keep track of who is where in your venue. Use that information to play networking-matchmaker with attendees in a space. Give your visitors more options to connect and interact with the space.
buy Card Beacon

Workplace

An ID card only says so much. It may have an image or a list a title, but what else can it do? If employees have to use badges, they should be connected. Card Beacon can cut out human error and increase security by automating access. This wallet-ready beacon can even be leveraged to track attendance.

Retail

Is your loyalty card a flimsy piece of paper? If it blends into the pile, your customer may just forget about it. Loyal customers expect more in 2017. They want better options, more personalization, and less hassle. Beacons are already being leveraged to upgrade loyalty cards, offering smart promos and updates the moment the customer approaches the store. Card Beacon put more power in the hands (and wallet) of your customer.

Asset tracking

For warehouse managers and others, knowing where your assets are locating and how they move is paramount. NFC and QR are great solutions, but they require a lot of human interaction. Slip a beacon on your most important assets and register them automatically or use real time data to take a peek at where they are currently located.

Healthcare


Hospitals are busy. Doctors, nurses, administrators, and patients are often running from office to office, making it hard to keep track of everyone. A smarter ID card could help administrator's better automate access. By restricting entry or exit only to doctor's with a Card Beacon, there's less chance for human error without slowing down the process with manual entry or paperwork.

Payment

One of the most talked about uses of IoT is for automating payment. No need to rummage through your wallet--or even wait in line. Beacons can help speed up the process and get customers in and out faster.
buy Card Beacon

Need the scoop on beacon-based push messages? We wrote a 35-page white paper on it. Here's our most important findings. Or get the complete paper here.

Proximity-based marketing has taken over retail, but that's not the only vertical. Museums, events, transit, and everything in between can benefit from better, more personalized messaging.
In fact, Google's VP of marketing, Lisa Gevelber, recently shared statistics on how consumers are changing. The numbers reflect a troublesome fact businesses must face: customer expectations are changing.

“70% of smartphone owners who bought something in a store first turned to their devices for information relevant to that purchase. And when people search on mobile, it tends to lead to action: 92% of those who searched on their phone made a related purchase.”

Customer expectations are changing
There are countless ways the smartphone is transforming how we shop. It can aid and it can distract. Most importantly, it can be used against businesses. Customers want better interactivity and options when shopping. They also have more options than ever. The result is a customer with high expectations and the ability to take their business elsewhere. However, this shouldn’t be seen as a negative development. Rather, it’s a great opportunity for business owners everywhere.
The same technology empowering customers to raise their expectations also gives managers the chance to raise their own, internal bar. Smartphones bring one missing piece of the marketing puzzle to the forefront: proximity data. You may know who your customer is, what they like, and what they’ve bought, but can you appeal to them at the moment of truth?

For example: as of now, you may know that Andrew is 35, has bought before, and would love your upcoming seasonal line. In fact, he’s already saved one of the new products online. In the past, you could send him an email or hope that he happens to find your upcoming products in-store. Beyond these kinds of interactions, there weren’t many options. Proximity data, however, can let you know when Andrew is actually in proximity to the products he’s likely to love.

The big question: who needs push messages and how can you send them?

There are several different ways to get messages to your users’ phones. WiFi, QR, Bluetooth, and others can all do the job in general. But each one will have different results. This diversity is great as there is an equally diverse breadth of use cases and verticals for push notifications. Are you a retailer who needs to instantly pop up on the phones of their customers? Are you a bus operator who needs to keep their users up-to-date and always on the right path? For many of these use cases, managers will need to actively push messages to users’ devices (as opposed to waiting for a user to scan a code). This brings us to the first key takeaways from our Proximity Notifications study.

Takeaway #1: Beacon notifications have been found to be much cheaper than comparable WiFi-based systems.

Proximity has always played an important role for businesses as exemplified by the explosion of out-of-home advertising in recent years. There are several options available for proximity campaigns. Technologies like QR, NFC, and Wi-Fi have all contributed to proximity advertising; however, they all lack the interactivity and direct connectivity of beacon notifications and push messages. Unlike most other solutions, Bluetooth benefits from a huge existing ecosystem.

Takeaway #2: Beacon notifications can have better reach

Beacon solutions have two key capabilities: data integration and direct communication. Instead of waiting for a customer to scan a code and interact with a message, beacons push messages directly to mobile phone users through the pre-existing Bluetooth ecosystem. These messages can be enhanced using relevant data about the user. Shopping histories, preferences, or demographics can all help a company make better, more meaningful messages for their customers. While an ordinary QR code can only lead to a single message, beacons can connect users to the message most pertinent to them.
These capabilities have obvious usages in retail, but they can also be creatively used to send a number of push messages.

reach more customers with proximity notifications 

Takeaway #3: Push notifications have a HUGE number of use cases across verticals.

How do beacon notifications and push messages work?

A beacon is a small piece of technology that sends out almost continuous radio waves that can be picked up by the phones of passers-by. These waves manifest themselves either as push messages in a downloaded app or a URL through the Physical Web. This means a message can include much more than just text. It can have links, images, promotions--just about anything the designer would like to include. The result is a message tailored and personalized to the individual reader. Instead of feeling overwhelmed with useless messages (and disillusioned about a company's ability to communicate), a customer feels that the business is offering them a real value.

Takeaway #4: Smart campaigns can provide clear data on returns.

Once you have your campaign in place, the success of beacon push notifications campaigns can be easily measured. All the data generated by customers and their app usage creates a clear image of how the app is used and whether it is valuable.
For example, Proxama and Mapway outfitted dozens of buses in London with beacon technology. These travelers spent an average of 17 minutes on any given bus, and beacon notifications and push messages helped brands engage more efficiently with their target audience. They found their beacon-triggered real-time travel update notifications received a 44% click-through rate. That means they didn't have to guess whether their campaign was successful--they know it was.
And they’re not the only ones. Retailers, hotels, airports, sports stadiums, museums, and everyone in between are finding practical usages for beacon notifications.

Takeaway #5: There's a LOT to learn about beacon push notifications and proximity messaging

We couldn't fit all the findings from our 35-page white paper in one blog post, so be sure to download the whole paper here for free and get all the details. Learn more about the proximity-based messaging methods, cost, use cases, and 7 steps to getting started with beacon notifications.

What are beacons and why should I care?

Beacons are devices that broadcast signals at a certain interval. In other words, Beacons allow applications to understand their location on a hyper-local scale and sends signals to users based on their specific geographic location. It’s kind of like GPS for indoors that powers all kinds of possible uses. These uses of beacons in the real world are extremely diverse and endless. They essentially bridge the online and offline world while gathering invaluable data. The results? A lot of possibilities.

Beacons and proximity are most commonly used for:

explore other beacon use cases

What are Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) Beacons and why are they special?

Bluetooth LE beacons are, as the name suggests, beacons that use Bluetooth Low Energy technology. Just how much of an impact does this have?

Click here to check the comparison of Bluetooth and other technologies competing on hardware and software requirements.

Eddystone and iBeacon, Which One is Better Suited for Me?

Let’s hold up a second. Before we go any further, I'll provide a simple explanation of what Eddystone and iBeacon are:

Eddystone and iBeacon are communication protocols. As mentioned earlier, beacons send out a Bluetooth signals at certain intervals, and the communication protocols describe the format that makes up the signal.

iBeacon

iBeacon transmits a UUID, a Major, and a Minor value (16, 4 and 4 digits respectively). One quick reminder: beacons do not do the tracking. iBeacon requires an app to receive, process and/or track the beacon. Works with iOS and Android, but native to iOS (works better with iOS).

Eddystone

Eddystone can send 3 different frame-types: Eddystone-UID, Eddystone-URL, or Eddystone-TLM.

Cross-platform, meaning it works well with not only iOS and Android, but any processor that supports Bluetooth beacons.

Powers Physical Web applications (learn more about that here)

Oh, god! What does all that mean?

Too many technical terms? Don’t worry. If none of that makes sense or is of interest to you, I will simply sum it up:

tl;dr:

iBeacon is simple to implement, has more documentation, but less features.

Eddystone has more features and sends more information than iBeacon, but it is more complicated to integrate.

questions or inquiries? click here

Bluetooth LE Beacon Use Cases

Let’s face it, hearing about beacon specifications can be a bit dry sometimes; you want to see some real world examples and how you can benefit as well. We’ll go through specific use cases in retail, events, tourism, and manufacturing.

Many people like to divide beacon use cases into two categories: the traditional and the new. It can be strange to imagine a technology like beacons, which is only a few years old, to have “traditional uses,” but these are all the verticals the general public know and love. Beacons started in retail and moved to events, museums, tourism. These use cases are all about helping a customer maneuver a space or engage with a company. It’s about facilitating communication.

However, 2017 is seeing a shift. New beacon technology is powering new use cases, namely asset tracking and RTLS. These are much less customer-obsessed and focus instead on data generation or tracking equipment around a space. It’s about illuminating processes to optimize a supply chain or movements around a space (like a warehouse or hospital). These new use cases are set to make up a huge percentage of beacon usage overall even if the average consumer never knows it.

Retail

Retail is probably one of the most mature and fastest growing industries that are using beacons today. Business Insider predicts that beacons will directly result in over $40 billion in US retail sales in 2016. Beacon technology is a great opportunity for retailers to see what items customers are most interested in and plan their store layout accordingly, heck they're even on some coolers now.

We’ve seen beacons used by ELLE, Carrefour, and Volkswagen. Here are some ways you could use Bluetooth beacons in retail:

6_blog_1035x651

Carrefour gains 600% more app users by using Kontakt.io beacons.

Read our retail case study

Events

Beacons power events internationally, and their use ranges from small meetups to large conferences and expos. We’ve seen beacons at everything from Mobile World Congress to football stadiums (so many football stadiums!).

Here’s a list of some uses, because people seem to love lists:


New Call-to-actionNew Call-to-action

Tourism

Proximity helps create an interactive environment in places like museums, completely revolutionizing how they guide, educate, and tell stories. Most importantly, beacon technology is often affordable enough that it won't break the bank.

Here are some neat ways to use beacons in tourism:

Asset Tracking

Unlike all the above use cases, asset tracking or “RTLS” is not exactly made to drive sales or help users maneuver a venue (unless it helps optimize performance). Really, this is all about optimization instead of enhancing visitor experience. A lot of people get very confused when they hear the term “asset tracking,” but it’s actually a highly valuable, long-running tool in many industries. In fact, thought leaders expect the growth of Industrial IoT to really rely on beacon technology.

How can you use beacons in asset tracking? Here’s the basis:

Main Considerations

If you’ve read/skimmed this far, you must be interested. So what else should you consider before going into the proof of concept stage?

Deployment

If you’re deploying a large amount of beacons, you must have the right set of tools and communication. There are things you absolutely must understand and some decisions you absolutely must make beforehand:

How are the beacons configured? How are they labeled for deployment? Are they continuously updated as the business purposes for the beacon changes? If you’re in need of some expert tips, feel free to check these out.

Fleet Management and Coverage

It seems a little unnecessary, but management will need to be considered during deployment. If you don’t understand how your fleet with function into the future, you’re probably going to get burned. One must routinely check on: missing/stolen beacons, the indicators regarding battery life, and categorization of the beacons.

The coverage or range of beacons vary largely depending on the environment. Fixtures, walls or even other signals may disrupt the coverage. It’s hard to estimate what the spread in beacons are, but we’d love to try.

Beacon Security

Beacons are now emerging as a gateway to complicated financial interactions, so now there are incentives for someone to gain access to your beacons. The Eddystone communication protocol is already secure, but iBeacon is vulnerable to piggybacking, cloning, hijacking and cracking.

Lucky for our users, all our beacons have Kontakt.io Secure, worlds only suite that protects you against all the security threats.

Of course, just because your beacons are secure doesn’t mean you shouldn’t worry about understanding how it works. I highly recommend reading up on how beacons work and why security matters. Beacon hardware is incredibly simple. That’s why security is of the utmost importance.

Beacons Solution Provider Checklist

Alright, so now you’re thinking, ‘beacons are interesting, and I’d love to juggle the idea of a proof of concept.’ We got you. We’re excited for you too.

As a quick disclaimer: we don’t provide solutions, we just manufacture the beacons. We do love playing the match maker, we know the industry better than you, so just shoot us a message.

Here are some things you need to look for in a solution provider:

Scalability

Deployment


Download beacon deployment checklist

Conclusion

Thanks for bearing with us throughout this article, we know it’s a bit wordy, but we were aiming to provide a complete introduction to Bluetooth Low Energy beacons.

Let us know what you think below, and once again (sorry), let us know if you have any questions.

Need more use case ideas? Inspiration? Just plain bored?

Download our Beacon Buyers Guide Whitepaper

Check out the rest of our blog for everything you need to know about beacons. We love our blog. It’s our baby.

We know you’ll find more answers (whether it’s technical, ideological, or metaphysical) somewhere in its pages.

You’ve seen many use cases that show how beacons boost customer engagement overnight. No wonder that as you plan your own deployment, your expectations are high. You don’t simply want to have good results—you need them to explode. If you want to find out how others increased their engagement explosivity index, here’s one example: meet Vulcano Buono.

(more…)

Ebizu, a Malaysian business solutions provider, is helping brick-and-mortar retailers reach and engage their customers via mobile devices by adding hyperlocal and customized context to existing text-based marketing. Thanks to beacons, retailers can now send personalized and location-based notifications in the right place at the right time, and boost their mobile marketing efforts enormously.
Ebizu was recently awarded $139K in seed funding, and so we thought it would be a great chance to discuss new opportunities as well as their future strategies. We sat down with Rohit Maheswaran, Chief Product Officer at Ebizu - here's what we found out. (more…)

We’ve spent the last four weeks digging up the most useful and insightful use cases and white papers that we can find on retail and proximity, focusing on showing you the ROI of beacon deployments. Here’s a summary of what we’ve done. (more…)

Carrefour, the $20B+ multinational retailer, has been using mobile apps since 2012. The purpose of one of these apps was to make the shopper experience easier and more efficient by helping them find new stores and check prices on items with a mobile phone. It may not be the sexiest of apps, but definitely a useful one. After 2 years, Carrefour added proximity and context to their app with Bluetooth beacons and saw that the exact same application’s engagement went up 400%, virtually overnight!
Find more use cases for beacons in retail here. (more…)

Keeping your customers loyal to your brand so you won’t lose them to competitors sounds great but when it comes to an execution, it might not be so fun.
There are tons of so-called “driving-loyalty” platforms, apps, and programs that are facing a very basic problem -- nobody wants to use them. Well, a Gino Rossi’s app isn’t one of them. (more…)

McDonald’s loves to offer their customers with great food at great prices, but they know that delighting customers with special offers that are relevant to them is key to driving repeat loyalty. To build more in-depth relationships with their clients and increase their awareness about a new line of flavored coffee drinks, such as chai tea latte, ginger mocha, or coconut latte, McDonald’s tested out proximity marketing at 15 McDonald’s McD Café restaurants in Istanbul. The results satisfied them so much that before they even had final results in on the first test, they ran another campaign promoting a new series of burgers. (more…)

[Updated for 2020]
[Updated for 2020]