There has been an immense amount of excitement and hype around iBeacon technology and what it can and will enable. There have been hundreds, if not thousands, of trials. However, there have been relatively few successful production deployments of experiences using iBeacon. Now, nearly two years after Apple introduced the iBeacon protocol, here's our list of top 5 most common reasons that iBeacon projects fail.
iBeacons are a fantastic enabling location technology but unless a genuine benefit can be demonstrated, it's unlikely that your customers will keep interacting with it. In public trials, we've found that nearly 60% of users disable location services and push notifications for an app when the reasons for such access are not made clear at the time the app is first installed.
It's probably best to stop your project and revisit the use case if it's based on one of the following:
"It's a new and interesting technology, so why not!"
"We'll use it to push customers an [offer/discount/coupon] on [entry/exit] of [our/a competitor] store."
"We'll just use it to secretly track in-store customer movements."
Challenge yourself and your team to clearly define what the real benefit to both the business and the customer is. Secondly, is it actually an improvement on existing methods, or is it just different? Note that on rare occasions, just being different and/or first is enough for a while.
The most compelling customer experiences deliver a clear value such as time saving, personalised and highly relevant information or process simplification. A proximity triggered push message can be part of that mix so long as it's relevant to the individual. There's also a right way to ask users for smartphone permissions.
We've also seen success in iBeacon experiences for internal company applications including asset tracking, process tracking, planogram reconciliation for retailers and inventory picking.
Customers interact with your brand across a variety of channels: online, in-store, social media and more, so why limit your interaction rules to a single proximity or location experience? Many of the retail proximity experiences we've seen fail to capture the user's imagination don't incorporate or use the company's existing knowledge of that customer. For example, an offer for shoes is presented on entry to a store when the customer has just popped in for a click and collect shoe purchase they just made online.
Digital content should be fresh and specific to an individual – that’s the expectation set by the likes of Facebook, Amazon and Google. This means understanding the customer journey and taking advantage of the systems and data you already have; micro-location is an additive experience. By knowing buying preferences, previous purchases and social media interactions, you can deliver a customer experience that will surprise and delight and, most importantly, creates a seamless connection between the brand experience they have across each of your channels.
iBeacons and other Bluetooth Low Energy beacons can facilitate powerful experiences but in isolation the technology may fail to ignite. Why? People turn off Bluetooth, they disable location services or use old smartphone software that is incapable of supporting iBeacon interactions. In trials, we've found that just over 30% of users have Bluetooth services initially disabled.
Whilst Apple's iBeacon has become a popularly cited example, there are many different micro-location technologies that, when used together, increase interaction reliability and provide a more consistent experience.
Many iBeacon pilots have been built on simple content management platforms. Whilst these platforms may be well suited for learning and trials most fail to scale in an enterprise setting. Enterprise architects increasingly mandate that external platforms connect with existing internal systems and contribute information back to a common data store - a single customer view.
Making it work in enterprise means integrating with existing systems and processes like point of sale, inventory, loyalty, campaign and analytics. Systems from Teradata, IBM, Salesforce, Oracle and SAP dominate this space and some level of integration is not just beneficial but most often is a basic requirement. This is daunting and beyond the capability of most app developers and digital agencies which can cause early excitement about the potential quickly fade into drowning in a systems integration nightmare. Fortunately, platforms like Localz have pre-built adaptors that already connect directly into these systems make integration quick and simple (this is what we specialise in).
Massive data compromises have raised awareness of security and need for strong privacy controls. Sadly, many iBeacon experiences have not been architected with security and privacy as an essential condition. Further, companies operating in the European Union are subject to the Data Protection Directive which provides a robust mandate for managing personally identifiable information - including location activity. What starts as a quick and nimble closed trial can fail to scale as the company isn't able to solve for the security and privacy controls required.
If you're reading this and have previously or are currently experiencing some of these failures, get in touch with the team here at Localz. We've got the demonstrated skills and experience in deploying micro-location experiences at scale and we'll be happy to help your project succeed.
iBeacon is a trademark of Apple, Inc