What Is Beacon Technology?
Beacon technology is taking the AdTech world by storm. Apple first led the innovation with their patented “iBeacon” platform introduced in 2013. If you are currently using iOS7 on your iPhone, then you are using beacon technology even though you may not realize it. In the simplest terms, beacon technology blends physical retail environments with online experiences by placing a “beacon” (a small, egg-sized device that transmits signals via Bluetooth) in a store, which in turn pushes notifications to shoppers’ phones. Pair that with the functionality of a branded store app and you’ve got an unparalleled bridge between the physical and digital worlds.
Who Is At The Forefront?
A few companies are using beacon technology to its fullest extent. Below are just two examples of beacon innovation in action.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts instituted an iBeacon trial in many of its locations that assists concierge team members in greeting guests by name, accelerates the check-in process for frequent guests, and alerts housekeeping when guests are still in the room. They introduced a new pilot program in which consumers at a few of their U.S. hotels will be able to walk into a hotel, skip the check-in process, go straight to their room and open the room door via keyless entry activated on their smartphones.
For this to work, the guest must have a partner app installed and turned on. By having the app installed and beacons placed in strategic locations around the hotel, Starwood can send push notifications to guests as they walk past the bar area or send offers for entertainment, spa services or restaurants encouraging guests to spend more time and money with on-site amenities.
For the holiday season, Macy’s deployed beacons in nearly 800 stores throughout the U.S. to capitalize on an offline data-driven retail experience. Macy’s is using beacon technology to track customer movements within stores, push product recommendations and discounts and to inform shoppers about relevant sale items.
The Future Vision
Many companies are taking beacon technology to the next level: Walgreens, Walmart, Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines and Lord & Taylor, just to name a few. Industry experts agree that this technology is the key to bridging the gap in mobile and physical shopping experiences; it allows personalized engagement at a level never seen before. 90% of consumers say that more personalized experiences will increase their loyalty and likelihood to shop at a particular store.
Will beacon technology work for you? Performing small tests in different retail locations could be your next step to implementing a beacon technology into your broader marketing strategy.