How Beacons Are Being Used for Back to School
Retailers have been conditioned by consumers to constantly seek out “what’s next,” trying to stay ahead of trends in shopping preferences and behaviors. A driving force behind changes in shopping trends over the past year has been mobile. Consumers are growing more comfortable using their mobile devices to fulfill their shopping needs, whether they're buying a product, comparing prices, reading reviews on social media or otherwise informing their purchase decisions.
It is this comfort level with mobile that has prompted select retailers to take aggressive steps in updating the mobile shopping experience in their stores. Market Track surveyed 1,000 shoppers on their use of mobile phones while shopping in-store for back to school (BTS). We found that 25 percent of consumers across all age demographics have already used their mobile device while shopping in-store for BTS.
Knowing the average consumer will likely use their mobile device at some point while in-store (for shopping or nonshopping purposes), retailers are using beacon technology for proximity marketing, as well as pushing ad messaging to consumers who enter the store or travel to and interact with different locations within a store.
Women’s apparel retailer New York & Company recently launched a mobile app ahead of the peak BTS shopping season that will push promotional deals to in-store shoppers. According to an article on geomarketing.com, the company installed deal-based beacons, owned by Shopkick, at 170 of its 487 total stores, allowing customers to earn “kicks” (i.e., rewards) for walking into a store, trying something on in the fitting room or making a purchase. These rewards points can be redeemed for discounts on items in-store. From Market Track’s survey, of those that indicated they used their mobile phones while in-store, the majority were looking for coupons and discounts.
Not only do beacons pick up nearby smartphones and send them text messages or emails with coupons, product information or even store catalogs, but they also provide real-time insight for retailers. The devices also give information on how consumers are navigating and moving throughout the store, which can help retailers decide if they need to move a display as well as see which items people are most interested in.
Coco Jones, Shopkick’s head of strategic solutions, spoke about how beacons are becoming increasingly popular: “While Shopkick led the industry with one of the very first beacon deployments in partnership with Macy’s back in 2014, we now see the early test buds growing to full-chain deployments across many of our partners, including American Eagle Outfitters, New York & Company, and TJ Maxx. The trend for the use of beacons in stores is very positive, and what’s exciting is that we see a broader spectrum of both retailers and brands adopting the technology and making it a part of their omnichannel marketing strategy.”
Mobile marketing has been a hot topic for the retail industry for several years, but only recently have consumers fully adopted mobile into their shopping process. Early adopters of in-store mobile programs like beacon technology are the leaders in a trend that's picking up steam. A year from now, consumers may expect to receive marketing from in-store beacons, regardless of where they're shopping or what they intend to buy.
Ryne Misso is the director of marketing at Market Track, a provider of market intelligence solutions based on comprehensive analysis of the advertising, promotional and e-commerce landscape.
Related story: RMV ’14 Podcast: How Alex and Ani Uses Beacons to Improve its Mobile Strategy