Since the introduction of iBeacon by Apple in 2013, more and more companies have embraced beacon technology and applied it to the services they provide. Where marketers can see the different applications of beacons, customers are still unsure of what the technology does and how it benefits them.
Beacons use Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) to broadcast a signal from an app on one device to a compatible app on another device. The signal can be used to establish a device’s physical location with a precision of 10cm to 70m or trigger an action on the device such as a push notification. Different businesses use beacons for a range of applications, depending on what they want to achieve. But how does the technology actually benefit your company's customers.
Imagine walking into a shop and an employee greets you by name. As a result of the beacons, installed around the store, the employee is alerted of your presence. Your customer profile, which includes your personal details, purchase history and preferences, is presented on the employee’s device.
Through beacon technology, retailers can send you personalised messages about products you are looking at right now. If an item has a beacon attached to it and you place your device close to that particular product, a detailed message pops up on your device. You can also receive guidance about pairing products, for example, what shoes go with the dress you liked.
You are at an airport and you are not sure where to drop your bags or which gate your flight departs from. Beacons can navigate you via the airport app. The technology detects the precise location of your device and its proximity to a specific object at the airport. This will take you to your terminal and gate and show flight information.
Many times you need to buy something in a rush but the service is slow and you walk away.
Beacons allow staff members to work fast and efficiently by alerting them who you are, where you are and what you are looking at. For example, if you have pre-ordered via the retailers’ Click & Collect service, you can go straight to the collection point and your package is going to be ready for you.
If you like discounts, beacons enable retailers to send the most relevant bargains to you in real-time. For example, during sales periods like Black Friday week and Christmas holidays, customers can benefit from the technology by receiving alerts on discounts, quantity of stock left and prices. Retailers want to grab your attention and the most effective way is to send you offers, happening right now.
You want to grab a coffee on your way to work but you want to avoid queuing. Order online on your smartphone whilst approaching the coffee house. By the time you walk into the place, a staff member is going to have your coffee ready to go with no queuing and waiting. Perfect, right?
Do you want to know exactly where your online order or package is right now? If you are expecting a delivery today, you can receive an alert by the delivery driver when he is close to your address and how long it is going to take until arrival. All possible with beacon technology.
The best feature of beacons is that customers can decide whether to share their location or not, on an app by app basis. In order for a beacon to detect your device, you have to first turn your Bluetooth on. You also have the option to opt in or opt out when you receive a notification from a business, which has adopted beacon technology. It is your choice.
Even though businesses are the ones that employ the beacon technology, the customers benefit the most. The technology enables customers to receive the right information at the right time. It makes the customer shopping experience quick, efficient and satisfying. Most of all, it is up to the customers whether or not the technology is going to detect them.