The Pain and Promises of the Beacon Technology in the Retail Sector
Technology is advancing at a rapid pace, turning science fiction into reality gradually. The beacon technology is one such technological advancement that was once a figment of the imagination of countless researchers. Let’s glance through at how beacon technology is sprouting and changing our business world.
What is a Beacon?
A Beacon is a small, battery-powered, wireless sensor with a built-in Bluetooth device (chip) that works on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). It allows the Bluetooth enabled devices to receive data within short distances.
The beacon device is purposely designed in such a way that it can be fixed anywhere easily and be efficiently used by everyone. It constantly broadcasts a radio signal, and when a device receives this signal, it reads the ID of the beacon and hence triggering the action in the smartphone app. What makes a beacon technology different is its ability to ‘awaken’ an app that has been downloaded on the smartphone but is not open.
Diving Deep into the Beacon Technology
Most beacons use the BLE technology as it requires low energy consumption and operation costs. The technology only allows for small amounts of data transmission, and hence is the reason why most beacons only transmit their IDs.
Beacons consist of three values:
• Universally unique identifier (UUID)
• Major value
• Minor value
The purpose of transmitting this ID is to differentiate a beacon from all other beacons in an area. The major and minor values are the integer values given to the beacon for greater accuracy in identification. The beacons also carry information about its signal power to determine the proximity of the source.
Presented at the World Wide Developer's Conference in 2014 as part of Apple's iOS 7, iBeacon is a brand name created by Apple Inc. It is a technological improvement by Apple that has been implemented in the location framework in iOS 7 and the newer operating systems. As described earlier, iBeacon uses BLE technology to sense propinquity and transmit UUIDs that trigger actions in an attuned app or operating system.
Eddystone - A Game Changer
In response to the iBeacons, Google came up with its beacon project, known as the Eddystone, with more open and flexible approach. Eddystone is Google's cross-platform, open-source BLE beacon format. Unlike iBeacons, it broadcasts not only the UUID but also pre-programmed web page URLs and thus does not require the installation of specific apps.
The Empowerment of the Beacons
With this sweeping rise in beacon technology, companies are investing in this technology to generate greater revenues. Below is a brief detail about how the retail industry is utilizing and availing the benefits of beacon technology:
The swiftly growing e-Commerce industry has resulted in the decrease of footfall and in-store sales for both the small retailers as well as big brands. In-stores have understood that they have to imitate e-commerce in the expanses of personalized offers and shopping experiences.
Therefore, retail is a critical area where the beacon app development services are expected to bring a huge impact - from proximity marketing to contact less payments to in-store analytics. By the end of 2017, 85% of the retail industry is expected to leverage the beacon technology. Despite the hype, the technology has some great revolutionary aspects to offer. Let’s learn a few:
Beacons send location awareness alerts, updates on merchandise/products, and promotional notifications to lure a passerby to enter the store. It can also be used to analyze customers who walk past the store and their visit duration. This analysis will help in making strategic decisions on product display.
Beacons use in-store navigation and provide real-world analytics like:
• The areas and items a customer likes to explore
• Where a customer spent most of her/his time
• What and when s/he makes a purchase
• Most in-store rushed locations
• In-store deserted locations
• Busiest days of the store
• Number of people who walk into their store per day
These data provides insight into customer behavior and store performance. This analysis will help the retailers to organize their products, prices and place their products in strategic locations on strategic days and time. By knowing the repeated visitors to the store, retailers can reward those customers with loyalty benefits for their purchase.
Beacon makes a customer's in-store journey personalized and unique. It fetches data from the wish list of a customer and notifies him when he comes across that particular product. It also recommends products based on price, quality, and offers to provide better in-store experience.
The customers who have already set up their payment information through their smartphone can use a connected beacon and complete their purchase by processing their payment without waiting in long queues. When a payment is done, the stock will be automatically updated (Worth Reading: The Sporadic Growth of Mobile Payment Gateways).
The beacon development services are progressively spreading, not just in the retail space but in the various other sectors as well. Beacons help businesses to attract more customers and to understand the demands of their potential customers. It is a cost-effective and targeted marketing technique that promotes your sales and generates higher revenues.