Introduced in 2013, beacons were hailed as a game changer of the retail world. The device lets you collect valuable real-time data in-store and communicate with shoppers by pushing notifications straight to their smartphones. In this guest blog by one of the leading manufacturers of beacons, Estimote talks about how beacons are changing the future of retail. Their product - a rock-shaped colourful sensor - uses Bluetooth low energy (BLE) to detect the location of nearby smartphones and communicate with them.
Estimote: The future of retail is in the physical world
Beacons are the obvious piece when it comes to closing the gap between the online and the offline world. Attribution in online advertising is anchored by ad networks; for better or for worse, retargeted ads in particular have shaped our browsing experience. While this kind of tool didn’t previously exist for brick-and-mortars, beacons are emerging as a new advertising platform for the physical world.
Retargeting in the physical world
All marketers and advertisers are familiar with web tracking tags like pixels and cookies (also known as “web beacons”). These types of tags are elemental to advertising on Google and Facebook, personalization on Amazon, as well as the success of countless other internet companies. Cookies make it possible to glean even deeper insight into app users’ habits and preferences. For example, websites can determine which pages a user visits, what content is viewed, and even the volume setting of an embedded video.
Outside of a web browser, it’s extremely difficult to capture consumer intelligence in context of a physical space. An app operating in a physical space is essentially “blind” to the environment surrounding it. With beacons, physical retailers are finally one step closer to making in-store consumer insights actionable. iBeacon-enabled apps can not only deliver content at the exact moment you're near a beacon, but also understand your interactions relevant to your location. If a consumer has spent time in the TV aisle but bypasses the check-out line, the store can communicate additional product information or perhaps even offer a special promotion. Ultimately, businesses must provide real value to consumers in order to receive any information in return.
Key components: privacy and added value
Physical cookies might evoke the notion that users will receive a barrage of unwanted ads. iBeacon, however, has a powerful advantage when it comes to cookies. As opposed to the web where you have to enable a Do Not Track browser feature or install AdBlock, beacons are always opt-in at the user level. This means that you have to first download the app and then grant it permission to use your location. The user will always have control over what they do and do not see.
Roshan Prakash, Business Development Manager and Wojtek Borowicz, Community Evangelist, at Estimote