Beacons Bring the Online Experience to Offline Shopping
From distributing mobile coupons to updates on special sales to promoting new inventory and improving customer service, beacon technology allows retailers to engage shoppers at optimized times when it's contextually appropriate. Beacons are mutually beneficial for merchants and consumers; merchants can easily target their offerings to consumers who have opted in to receiving communication, and consumers can discover new experiences they wouldn't have known otherwise.
Customers can also personalize the types of messages they receive to ensure they're relevant to them, while blocking out messages that are outside of their interests. Beacons go much further than couponing, however. Never before have retailers had such an intimate way to communicate with consumers via two-way communication. Previously, advertisers could share messages with consumers; beacons allow consumers to either respond to communications or proactively communicate with the retailer.
According to marketing consultancy Brandology, half of the top 100 U.S. retailers tested beacons in 2014. This includes McDonald's, Macy's, Lord & Taylor and American Eagle. These companies are already seeing success with beacon technology. McDonald's recently integrated beacon technology in 17 franchise locations in Columbus, Ga. During the four-week trial, sales of the McChicken sandwich and McNuggets increased 8 percent and 7.5 percent, respectively, from the previous month. In this example, beacons proved to be the ultimate engagement tool, making it easier for McDonald's to cater to customers’ tastes, preferences and behaviors, resulting in more value and enjoyment in the dining experience.
According to Forrester, 61 percent of U.S. online consumers access the internet through their mobile phone in-store, suggesting we're at the tip of the iceberg in terms of potential for beacon messages to reach consumers in a retail setting. For merchants, this provides a wealth of opportunity to better serve consumers, answer customer service inquiries and more via mobile.