With major advances in Bluetooth radio technology and smartphone penetration at an all-time high a whole new set of possibilities emerge for store design: linking physical store designs with digital content will allow for a completely new experience and a deeper level of understanding about the shopper.
1. What are beacons?
Beacons are tiny radio transmitters that signal smartphones and tablets of their existence. The signals then can be used to engage shoppers through their smartphones to provide interaction features or extra information about products or promotions.
Beacons do not require a lot of energy and can typically run from a single battery for up to 2 years.
2.What type of beacons are available?
Apple has entered the beacon market in 2013 with its iBeacon format. This is a simple format and allows for pre-installed beacon-aware apps to provide hyperlocal features for app users.
In 2015 Google announced their own cross-plaftorm beacon format called Eddystone. The new format is a forerunner of what Google calls the physical web. In the physical web any object can have engagement features attached to it through the use of these tiny beacons. From entire stores, to individual pieces of clothing on sale can deliver customized content to any shopper via the URLs broadcasted in every beacon. The Eddystone beacon format is open source and will foster much more innovation from the global beacon community.
3. What can retailers do with beacons?
The questions can be answered in two ways. Both of which are centered around one thing: DATA. Your customers – through their devices – will leave a trail of data behind them that will enable you to engage them with content and interaction features never before seen. Let’s look at the short term (within 6 months) and long term (2 years) possibilities.
SHORT TERM – Engaging every customer through the stores own individual web content will engage customers and enable interaction with specific shoppers on a never before seen scale. This will effectively put brick & mortar retail on par with e-commerce.
LONG TERM – Most every piece of item available at a store will have their own content on the physical web. Multimedia, interaction and feedback will instantly be available for any item. You’ll be able to add items to wish lists, and receive omnichannel offers in real-time. Shoppers with questions about products can have instant answers in real-time.
4. The trail of data?
The trail of data now available to brick & mortar retailers is a game-changer. As shoppers visit our physical web websites and use our interaction features they create a bucketload of data describing their shopping habits, interests,possible alternate sales and communication channels to name just a few. This trail of data will change the way we think of traditional retail.
5. What will we achieve with the data?
The rapid growth of e-commerce is mostly attributed to optimizing the sales funnel. Incorporating the same principles for brick & mortar will enable retailers and brands to have the same efficiency in optimizing their sales funnels and to link e-commerce activities with brick & mortar to enable true omnichannel commerce.
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