Beacons Abound in 2017: Will You Keep Up?
We’re living in a world bursting with new technology. While exciting, it can also be overwhelming. How can consumers have fun, productive shopping experiences when they’re bombarded with messaging that’s often irrelevant to what they really want?
Luckily, at the same time, we’re seeing the proliferation of beacon technology. Giants Apple and IBM have announced a joint venture to introduce a collection of apps using analytics and iBeacons. This brings beacon technology into a whole new era of personalization. Earlier this year, beacons were predicted to boost retail sales by $4 billion. If you haven’t jumped on the beacon wagon yet, what are you waiting for?
Giving Consumers the Shopping Experience They Want
Stores increasingly employ Bluetooth beacons and other technologies to send location-based messages to customers’ smart devices, and the phenomenon is helping to remake the in-store shopping experience.
Beacons make it easier for stores to share contextual content, like sales or product information, while customers are near a particular item or display. They make the shopping experience unique by customizing content so each customer gets real-time information from brands she’s likely to get excited about. When shoppers receive those messages, they enjoy a personalized experience — something often lacking in the hectic modern marketplace.
Perks and rewards can add value to a familiar store. Beacon technology can direct shoppers toward good deals, offer them discounts if they’re moving on or display new features when they’re interested.
And consumers are ready for it. App usage for shopping has boomed. People are increasingly shopping online, but also crave a more personal, real-life experience. That’s where beacons come in.
Beacons’ benefits come down to connections and data. Analyzing beacon data provides deep and actionable insights about customer behavior so retailers can ensure happy customers and higher return on investments. Here’s how you can bring beacons to life and reap the rewards:
1. Set realistic goals. Any marketing effort should begin with clear goals, and working with beacons is no different. Start with a brainstorm session on what you want to achieve. How will beacons improve shoppers’ experiences? More important, how will you know your efforts are benefiting your audience and bottom line? Prioritize a selection of qualitative and quantitative metrics from the beginning so you can monitor when you’ve achieved your goals.
2. Plot your course. Once you’ve set your goals, you need a road map for achieving them. Define your strategy from an infrastructure standpoint by determining the use case for beacons in-store. Select store and product locations strategically. Think about who you’re trying to attract, and prioritize locations by how many shopper interactions they’re likely to deliver.
For example, make customers feel welcome at entrances and make them linger at exits. Push pleasant surprises when they hover without buying. And don’t forget about spots like fitting rooms and bottleneck areas around checkout counters. If you plot your beacons with love and care, shoppers will stay in the store because the experience is meaningful.
3. Test and refine. You aim to please customers, but you also must prioritize gathering usable data. (Frankly, beacons offer such granular data collection that it would be silly not to.) You need to be able to quickly learn how to keep offering better customer experiences. Keep testing shifts in your road map, evaluate using those metrics you prioritized in the strategy stage, and make a better journey each time you revisit your strategy.
This year, give your customers more than just goodwill; give them a valuable shopping experience.
Ann Newland is a senior vice president at Mitchell, a public relations firm that creates real conversations between people, businesses and brands through strategic insights, customized conversations and consumer engagement. Mitchell is part of Dentsu Aegis Network, which is made up of nine global network brands and supported by its specialist/multimarket brands.