Article

Dean Ronnie
Dean Ronnie 14 January 2015

How Can Beacons Be Brought Into Your Retail Business?

Can beacons add digital technology into your bricks and mortar business?

As the lines between the worlds of digital retail and traditional retail continue to blur, more and more retailers are looking to how they can make use of emerging technologies within their business as part of their multi-channel solutions. One such technology that is making its way into the traditional bricks and mortar retail environment is beacon technology.

 

Utilising technologies such as smartphones and tablets that the customer will inevitably already have with them, beacon technology can be a great way of enhancing communications and improving the customer experience in a traditional store environment.

 

Utilising Bluetooth low energy and micro-location based technology, beacons enable retailers to communicate offers and other useful information to customers as they enter and move around a store.

 

As they are cheap and low-maintenance – being available to purchase from as little as £25 each and can be just left to their own devices, beacons are a convenient choice to add into any retail store.

 

Beyond just communicating offers, beacons can be used in a number of innovative ways.

 

Here we take a look at the innovative ways in which retailers around the world are making use of the technology.

 

House of Fraser 

To assist customers with information about their products, in August last year, House of Fraser announced that they would be introducing beacon technology into the mannequins in their stores. The idea behind this is when customers with a smartphone and the relevant app, walk within 50 metres of the mannequin, they will be provided with details about the clothes and accessories that the mannequin is wearing. These details will include exactly what the products are, how much they cost, where they can be found in the store and a link to buy them online for customers limited for time.

 

Waitrose 

At their recently opened Swindon store, Waitrose have begun utilising beacons in its newly built aisles. Working with Deloitte Digital, the supermarket have placed beacons which will transmit special promotions, coupons and recommendations to shoppers as they browse.

 

Asda 

Asda is currently trialling the ways in which they might be able to use the technology within their stores. Starting with 12 stores, they are currently using the technology to communicate their competitive prices to customers. As part of their wider price promise, the supermarket are using the beacons to transmit the details of the prices of their products compared to those of their rivals.

 

Mothercare 

Like Apple already do in their retail stores, Mothercare are planning to use beacon technology as a way of greeting and welcoming customers to their stores. Beyond this, they will be using the technology as a way of providing information, adding value and making the in-store journey better for customers.

 

What other possibilities is there for beacon technology in the retail environment? 

Firstly, there’s the potential for utilising the technology beyond the confines of the store. While House of Fraser are using mannequins to communicate key information to customers once they are in the store, what if you could utilise beacons as a way of attracting passers-by to stop and enter your store? By adding beacons to your window displays you could do this. Using a beacon in a window you communicate any special offers you have in-store to someone who otherwise would have simply walked by.

 

Beyond this, there’s the potential for utilising beacons as a way of not just pushing special offers and adopting the hard-sell, but by providing the customer with all kinds of useful information. An example of this could be providing the customer with details of recipes in the supermarket or the details of which wine will accompany which dish. Alternatively, in a clothing store, beacons could be used to communicate current trends or as a way of suggesting which pieces make for a good outfit, or suggesting which accessories will compliment a certain outfit.

 

In larger stores, beacon technology could even be used as a way of directing customers. Like a form of indoor GPS, beacons could be used in shopping centres or large department stores to help customers locate a particular store or a particular product.

 

Beacons could even be used as a way of improving the convenience of click and collect in the in-store environment. Imagine being able to tell a customer wishing to collect a click and collect item had arrived and being able to get their order ready before they have even reached the counter.

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