The Scenario: A shopper walks into a store. Wham, their phone is abuzz with an in-store promotion; a coupon, a special sale, an on-the-spot reward or a loyal customer benefit. It’s the ultimate in spontaneous customer engagement and enhances the personal shopping experience.
The Technology: You’ve just been zapped by a Beacon! It’s the latest marketing technology that precisely targets a customer at a specific location. Beacons are low-powered radio transmissions that sends a signal to a smartphone that is in the immediate vicinity. Stores opt-in to the Beacon technology for a fee, of course! Customers wanting to get store specials, download the mobile app that connects them to the technology. It’s important to note that customers can opt-out at anytime.
The Experience: This is truly the missing piece of the mobile shopping experience. Once you have agreed to become a willing receptor of Beacon and download the app, you are ready to shop and save! Imagine walking into a store that triggers a Beacon text message to your mobile. You will get an alert for a certain deal. Once you accept, you receive full-screen images based on what department or aisle you wander down in real-time.
Beta-Testing: Coupled with the SlydeNow mobile app, there are 12 California restaurants participating in a beta-testing of the Beacon technology. The app allows merchants market based on visit frequency, product preferences and purchasing patterns. It also provides statistical analysis. A merchant can induce customers to buy by offering coupons with a benefit while the customer is in their store. This could result in increased sales.
Pay Without Opening Your Wallet: SlydeNow manages the entire retail experience. The app will login a customer when he is near a store, offer redemptions of e-coupons and purchases through a touchless payment. When the customer downloads the app, he can also put in his credit card info that is securely transmitted to the merchant. So now a consumer can receive personalized deals and rewards and pay without ever opening his wallet.
Loyalty Has Its Rewards: Merchants of course have to be sensitive to customers needs and not be overly intrusive. By collecting data on their customers, they can enhance a shopper’s experience. Pairing past shopping habits with appropriate messages, offers and incentives can reward customer loyalty. It’s a win-win for merchant and shopper.
Statistical Proof: The buying power of Beacon has been a beta-tested success. Shoppers who received Geo-targeted Beacon texts were 19 times more likely to interact with the advertised special than those that didn’t receive a Beacon message.
Beacon-based Stores: Retailers are quick to jump on the beacon bandwagon. Here are just a few of the major retailers that are using the technology: Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), Lord & Taylor, Saks, Hillshire Brands, Ball Park Franks, Jimmy Dean sausage, Sara Lee, and Hillshire Farm assortment of products. Regent Street, London’s high-end shopping street has some 140-store entrances, and now has Beacons at many of them.
Is Big Brother Watching? We are way past 1984 and Big Brother is not only watching, but, helping us shop. We have learned to live with cameras monitoring shoppers. Accepting Beacons into our mobiles (remember, our choice) can not only enhance the shopping experience, but can also translate into cost savings and increased profits for merchants. My only question now is, “Does Big Brother Have a Sister!”