A New Edge to Shopper’s Experience in Retail – Beacon Technology
Beacon Technology – The introduction of beacons goes back to 2013 with the introduction of iBeacon by Apple. After its launch, various companies began to manufacture devices compatible with this technology. These devices came to be known as beacons.
What is a beacon?
A beacon is a small electronic device that constantly emits a message to nearby electronic devices like a smartphone. A smartphone can only read the message from a beacon when both of them are in close proximity.
Beacons connect to another device through Bluetooth low energy (BLE). BLE consumes far less energy than standard Bluetooth making it ideal for portable devices like beacons as they use batteries like button cells.
Other components of a beacon include a CPU and RF transmitter. Some of these devices also work on direct connection via USB.
How does beacon work?
A beacon transmits a code that is readable by a dedicated smartphone app. The code may offer different messages depending on how the user has programmed the app.
How can beacon help shoppers?
Here are some of the ways beacons provide their services in retail:
- Providing recipes at a grocery store
Getting recipes on smartphones after shoppers get close to a particular product is one of the best uses of beacon technology.
Marc’s grocery store did precisely the same. The store provided recipes and recommendations from Allrecipes to shoppers who came to proximity with any discounted products. This helped people to save cost and to discover recipes of what they can cook with those items.
Visits of Allrecipes mobile application reached around 40 million from 26 million in one month.
- Automatic alcoholic refills
Beacons have crossed the point from being affixed to a wall to being present in a glass. These devices alert bartenders that a particular customer’s glass is running low and require a refill.
Martini, an Italian alcohol brand, manufactured Smart Cube. These cubes sent a message to the bartender whenever the drink inside a glass hit a particular limit. Bartenders can also locate individuals precisely, so the latter does not have to leave their seats.
- Discount alerts
Shops that use beacons can alert shoppers of discounts whenever they come close to a particular product. Combining this technology with deep learning systems can even customise these discounts and recommendations based on an individual’s spending pattern.
Walgreens, a US-based pharmacy did the same not only with in-store shoppers but also with those passing by.
- Indoor navigation
Beacons can help users navigate their way through a large establishment. These devices can work more efficiently than GPS.
Target uses this technology to guide customers through their stores and help them find a particular product.
Similarly, the Gatwick airport in the UK installed 2,000 beacons for $3.3 billion. These beacons provide augmented reality technology to guide passengers through their way. Not only that but these devices help individuals to find specific places inside the airport like baggage belts, departure gates, check-in places, etc.
Not only in retail but beacons have seen applications in other public places. For example, Google alerted people on how to connect to Wi-Fi in several Indian railway stations.