Person using their smartphone in a store, how to use Bluetooth beacon technology

6 Ways Bluetooth Beacon Technology is Revolutionizing Retail

I’m really excited about Bluetooth beacon technology – as a marketer, and as a consumer. It’s an engagement tool that takes full advantage of smart phones and targets consumers when they’re inside or near a retailer’s location. This means business owners can send their customers relevant offers, and customers get the latest deals at convenient times.

How does Bluetooth beacon technology work?

Retailers install programmed beacons and customers download an accompanying app.

Then, when a user is in a beacon’s proximity, the beacon will automatically recognize his or her device and be able to interact with it.

What’s the big deal?

The technology is still in its infancy, but several big brands have already been testing it. Now is the perfect time to become an early adopter of beacon technology and gain earned media.

And the sooner retailers adopt Bluetooth beacon technology, the sooner they can take advantage of its many other benefits, such as the following.

1. Collecting valuable customer data

Imagine if you could record the exact moment a customer entered or exited your store. This valuable data is a big reason why companies are adopting beacon technology. Today, less than 3% of retailers are able to identify when a customer is entering and exiting their store, but more than 70% plan to be able to do so within the next five years. So, we should  be seeing a lot more beacons in the near future.

With beacon technology, you can track many other types of data too:

  • How many times a customer is visiting your store within a specific timeframe (e.g. week, month, or year)
  • How much time a customer spends in your store
  • How a customer moves around your store (and if they are missing any key departments)
  • Which departments a customer spends the most time in (this can help you determine your most effective displays)
  • Which promotions work best for different demographics

Example of Bluetooth beacon technology. Heat map shows where customers have been in store and gives data.

2. Engaging users with instant, personalized offers

Beacon technology allows you to offer your app downloaders coupons and special discounts. This is how retailers are enticing customers to download the app – by showing value. This feature can also be used as an engagement tool when a customer is walking around your store. Imagine as someone is walking by one of your displays, the app sends him or her an exclusive coupon for 20% off items on that shelf. This type of timely, in-store message can significantly increase a customer’s purchase intent.

Example of Bluetooth beacon technology. Person walks by shoes then gets a discount on their phone for 20% off

3. Growing loyalty programs

Loyalty programs are becoming increasingly popular and are a great way to reward your customers for their time and money spent in your store. Beacon technology is taking these programs to the next level – making your offers more relevant for your customers, and providing retailers and marketers a deeper understanding of their target audience’s behavior, demographics, location, and actions.

With beacon technology, you can track how many times a customer is visiting you, and how much time they are spending in your store. With this information, you can rank your customers from least to most loyal, and send them relevant offers accordingly. For example, if a customer only visits your store once or twice a month, you might offer a percentage-off offer to bring them back, whereas you might send a frequent customer information when you have a new product available, or offer them referral discounts.

4. Activating in-store automation

With Bluetooth beacon technology, your customer’s smartphone can send a signal when he or she is within close proximity to a product or display in your store, which can then activate some sort of in-store automation. For example, a customer enters an electronic section and a TV with a relevant commercial starts playing. This could be an interesting way to grab your customer’s attention, improve customer interaction, and highlight certain displays.

5. Tracking staff efficiency

There’s value in being able to track your staff’s locations and movements around your store. Beacons can be used to monitor when staff members are coming in and leaving, and how much time they spend in each department. Beacons could also send alerts to your staff members when a task needs to be carried out or if they are needed in another department. For example, if you want a shelf to be restocked, you could send a reminder to all your staff members, or just to staff members in a specific department.

6. Offering fast support and in-store navigation

When you’re visiting a mall, you might see navigation maps that have a big red dot that indicates “YOU ARE HERE”. Beacons can do the same thing, but instead of having to find a mall poster, you have it right on your phone. Since the beacons can tell which department you’re in, they will give clearer directions for where you want to go. By making finding departments and items easier, you can enhance your customers’ in-store experience. This is especially valuable when a visitor’s navigation experience has significant importance, such as at a museum or art gallery.

Bluetooth beacon technology example, map of how to get around store

Interested in learning more about Bluetooth beacon technology, and how it can benefit you?

Send us an email and we’ll get in touch

Feature image via Sebastiaan ter Burg

Other images via Impact RadiusNFC World and UX Magazine

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