Still On the Fence About Beacons? Read This.
If you’re a skeptic like me, all of the talk of beacons in retail stores sounds a little too pie-in-the-sky.
Beacons, as you probably know by now, are devices that communicate with shoppers’ smartphones in the hopes of improving their in-store shopping experiences. When placed in-store, beacons use Bluetooth technology to detect nearby smartphones and send them ads, coupons or supplementary product information.
Over the past year, more retailers have been experimenting with beacon technology — and in turn making me a bit less of a skeptic. In September, for example, Macy's added 4,000 iBeacon devices to its 786 stores across the country, in what appears to be the largest retailer to be integrating the technology into all its stores.
The initial rollout of the beacon technology was fairly straightforward: app users received storewide coupons on their phones as they entered the store. By next spring, Macy’s hopes that beacons will be able to transmit product information — e.g., a video about the quality of a product, information about complementary products, rich content that could help the retailer close a sale, etc.
But are there any “real” numbers around whether beacon technology is really working for retailers, or is it still just all bells and whistles?
Well, last week, a report came out that shows that consumers receiving beacon messages actually do respond to the transmitted offers. That tells me, sort of, that beacons seem to work.
The report from shopping app provider shopkick was based on a two-month test performed earlier this year at the more than 100 American Eagle Outfitters stores that use Shopkick’s shopBeacon technology.
According to the report, some users received a shopBeacon message when they walked into an American Eagle store that offered a small incentive for visiting the fitting room. At the end of the day, data showed that the percentage of users who visited the fitting room area to try on clothes was more than double for those who received the shopBeacon messages vs. for those users who didn’t receive the message.