Utilising beacons within the retail industry remains a very new concept. Although many retailers are interested in using this Bluetooth technology, there is still a lot of confusion about how beacons could help drive sales and customer engagement and how beacons even work.

In fact, the idea behind beacons is incredibly straightforward. Beacons transmit a message that can be detected by Bluetooth enabled devices including smartphones and tablets. When users receive this message, they see a short description and picture, enticing users to tap on the link. The message provided at this point is extremely important and must make it clear to potential customers why they need to tap on the link and the value provided. Tapping on the link takes consumers directly to a website page providing content relevant to that location.

Why Have Beacons in Your Store?
Beacons are bringing a much-needed way for bricks and mortar stores to fight back against online retailers. They can help enhance the shopping experience without overwhelming shoppers. Beacons can be used to provide indoor and outdoor navigation and to help create contextual experiences. Most importantly, this technology is highly affordable for even the smallest store to utilise and it’s already been thoroughly tested by some of the most well-known household names.
These names include Hudson’s Bay Company which was one of the first major companies within retail to begin embracing this newer technology. Another company is Tesco, the third largest retailer in the world and which uses an individual custom-designed mobile app allowing shoppers to access special promotions, coupons, and discounts.

Understanding Who Receives Beacon Messages
While consumer privacy is protected and beacons do not collect any personal information from users, they do collect useful data. This data can be utilised to see who is receiving messages from specific beacons and whether users choose to interact with these messages. This allows stores to see if a particular message is working and what can be improved. When more than one beacon is set up in a store, it’s possible to see which areas are more popular and which displays or aisles could do with some help. This data might be basic, but it provides a valuable insight into how customers experience the retail environment. If you choose to send out coupons or information about a particular product or promotion, it can be pretty interesting to know that customers have received and engaged with this information and whether they chose to investigate the promoted product or to completely ignore it. It’s this kind of proximity data that make the information provided by beacons irreplaceable. It gives you valuable insight into just what people do inside stores.

Personalising the Customer Experience
These personalised promotions are the lifeblood of beacon popularity, with customers increasingly expecting a personalised experience. A recent survey carried out last year found more than half of consumers think a personalised experience is very important when making a purchase. Roughly the same percentage are more likely to switch brands if they don’t receive good customer service and where a company doesn’t make an effort to personalise communications. Interestingly, most are willing to trade data if it helps to tailor their shopping experience in the future. So, what does this mean for retailers interested in using beacons?

Using Data
Using data analytics has been a hot topic for some years now but it’s not just about collecting as much data as possible. With beacon technology, it is possible to collect data that describes the customer and which helps to improve the customer experience in your store. By utilising this data in a retail setting, it’s possible to optimise store layout and to re-target users once you know a little about their history. It’s all about determining customers needs and making sure these are met through being able to access information provided by beacons. Companies that have achieved the most success using this technology have done so by putting the user first and by providing solutions that genuinely offer value. It’s magical when consumers choose to interact with a notification but the data captured can be even more valuable.