iBeacon Moulds Omni Channel Marketing
As a basic essentiality of any business there has to be a sales process, to bring in revenue for the business, and along with it a certain level of rationality as well. In the case of a retail business this rationality calls in for interaction with their customers to bring in revenue from sustained sales in building customer loyalty.
The medium with which this customer retailer interaction happens is through channels. The basic information a channel would send out to their customers, are information about their products, including the price and, offers and deals on the products. The brick and mortar retailer could easily market their goods to their customers through the earliest channels, the sales assistant. As times have evolved, the retail business had to find ways to market itself to it’s customers. The retail marketing which could have been looking for another channel to reach out to their customer, could have landed at the paper catalogue. The paper catalogue provided information or offers about the products. With the telephone getting popular, it was effectively combined with the paper catalogue to enable the customer to see a product and order them over the telephone. The retailer would deliver it to the customer’s premises.
Thus at these times, there could have been at least a couple of channels in the retail marketing. As technology evolved the methods of retail marketing got influenced as well. The most revolutionary technological advancement of the 21st century, the internet introduced a dimensional change to the retail marketing. The earlier internet just provided product, price and offer information that assisted the retail marketing, as a channel.
However the advent of e commerce saw the brick and mortar retailer being threatened. The e commerce based retailers like Amazon and eBay, who sold exclusively, over the internet, started pulling away customers from the brick and mortar (in store) environment to the digital world, where the customer was given the feeling of multiple channel information being available to them. Off late when the internet was brought into the pocket by the smartphone revolution, the mcommerce took shape and added on as another channel to the retail marketing option. Many creative retailers decided to take these threat from the technology as an opportunity and gave their customer options to buy online as well as in the store. They used the power of the internet in their logistics to give the customer options to choose how their purchased goods are delivered. Thus evolved the multichannel marketing. With the internet evolving itself into the Web2.0, and the m commerce getting more acceptance, the multi channel marketing has given way to the cross channel marketing. the basic essentiality of an effective retail marketing is understanding the customer behaviour.
This would allow the retailer to effectively sell the right products to the customer. The customer now moves across different channels before making a purchase. They might use the catalogue, the web site, social networking, in store, mobile and web site before they make a purchase. This disperses the customer experience and also disperses any understanding of the customer behaviour. We could well recollect a typical scenario when we might have purchased online. We would have spent hours researching over the web before we might have bought a smartphone.
We might soon find our email inbox being flooded with emails, showing us the products we browsed or searched on but did not have intention to buy. We might have no intention to even consider a purchase at that time. Alternatively we might even receive a banner ad of these products when we browse after a couple of days which might only leave us annoyed. This is wrong contextual marketing. A similar approach would only result in losing loyal customers. Thus what we experience here is dispersed multi channel marketing and what we need is an omni channel retail marketing.
An omni channel marketing approach would have all the channels integrated seamlessly, with information coming from a common repository, thus enabling the customers having a rewarding shopping experience. However it is relatively quite challenging to bring in an omni channel marketing environment into this segment.
An effective way to help in implementing omni channel marketing environment are proximity based solutions. Even though there has been technologies like the GPS, Wifi and NFC, they have been incapable of calculating the exact location of a customer in a meaningful way. The new Apple’s iBeacon technology shows great promise in this segment. Tiny electronic devices like beacons which work on Apple’s iBeacon technology when placed in a certain location, let us say in a retail cloth shop, would broadcast it’s location as Bluetooth LE signals. Any Bluetooth LE enabled smart device can pick up these signals.
When a customer’s smartphone receives these signals, proximity enabled app in the phone, can trigger an effective response corresponding to the location of the beacon. Besides the presence of a loyal customer in a certain location would trigger an alert to the shopper who can send in a discount or deal to the customer via the mobile app. Further, the beacons transmit the loccation signals in an average frequency of 1 sec and analytics software working in the software platform of the shopper can tell how much time a customer spends in different beacon locations. This would enable the retailer to get effective customer behaviour information, in levels almost impossible until now.
These features of the iBeacon technology thus seems to be clienteling the omni channel marketing into the retailer’s brick and mortar premises. Finally the promise of the iBeacon is also a big relief to the brick and mortar retailer as they can now offer more credible and effective online to offline interaction for the customer than the existing capability of the e commerce, social networking, mobile multiple channels.
bfonics is an enterprise grade, end to end proximity based marketing platform, targeting retail and hospitality industry. We work with the world’s leading retail and hospitality companies. For more information, please visit, www.bfonics.com.