The Unexpected Value-Adding Potential of Beacons
What are beacons and how do they add value?
Far from the philosophical meaning of ‘beacons of light,’ the beacons we’re referring to in this post emit no light, though they do emit Bluetooth low energy (BLE), whose precise location can be picked up by nearby devices through dedicated apps. Beacons are essentially wireless transmitting devices that range in size, though, they are typically small and easy to place in various settings, including outdoors.
The location-tracking ability of beacons makes them the perfect technology for tracing goods and people when physical proximity is key, as in the retail, events and logistics sectors. They allow retailers and event organizers to offer personalized offers, real-time discounts, and timely information to shoppers and exhibition or fair visitors. The technology itself has improved since its inception in 2013 by Apple; it has a large potential and wide-ranging applications that are yet to be explored.
Why doesn’t everyone use beacons?
The main downside of current beacon models is the fact that they’re only one way – capable of broadcasting their identifiers to the receiving software or app, but not able to receive any data. Also, in order to track signal-receiving devices and their owners, a dedicated app must be installed on iOS devices, so that data emitted by beacons can be captured and interpreted. On Android units this isn’t necessary, as the operating system makes use of Eddystone — an open communication protocol developed by Google that works with any beacons that support it and Android, Bluetooth-enabled devices.
Commercial beacon applications
Beacons have been used successfully in retail shopping centers, airports and events for the purposes of tracking consumers or visitors and targeting them with specific messaging. Foot traffic to a physical location can be effectively maximized by incentivizing desired behaviors (i.e. the purchase of a certain item, the purchase of larger quantities of an item, the visit of a specific booth at a tradeshow, or other location-specific actions).
People identification and counting
In addition to proximity marketing, beacons can be handy when tracking the entry, exit and movement of individuals in large groups. Not only can this technology help locate specific people in large physical spaces, but it also aids in understanding shopper/visitor movement and behavior patterns.
Furthermore, installing beacons at your physical storefront or office can help you improve your business listing in Google search by tracking and displaying the busiest visiting times, tracking user check-ins, and gathering user-generated photos of your business.
Having access to this data in the event sector, for example, makes it easier for event organizers to plan future events, forecast the quantity of welcome gifts, food and beverages needed, the opening/closing times, the number of staff members, and more.
Luggage and shipment tracking
As beacons make it possible to follow an item real-time, they make excellent luggage, asset or shipment trackers at indoor settings such as airports, warehouses, logistics and sorting facilities.
Beacon outlook for the future
Though it’s hard to predict how popular beacons will be in 10 years or whether a more advanced type of location-based technology will be introduced, most experts expect beacons to follow a path of steady growth, surpassing $25 billion in business opportunity by 2024. In 2017, Google piloted its Project Beacon; as part of the pilot, businesses with physical storefronts can request free beacon devices to help increase their visibility to pedestrians in physical proximity to their venue.
Why add beacons to your business strategy?
As we have hopefully demonstrated in this post, beacons can be a great addition to your offline and online marketing strategy. They can help you understand your customers and prospects more profoundly, improving user segmentation and targeting. As a result, the personalization of messaging and customization of offers can closely match actual customer needs and preferences.
When applied correctly and in conjunction with well-built companion apps, beacons can provide a competitive advantage in many industries where tracking of people and goods is paramount.
For more info on beacon technology and developing your own beacon apps, please contact Pegus Digital for a free solution consultation.