How Beacons enhance changing retail marketing strategies?
In 2016, we see beacon technology far better established in retail, with a good number of reputed retail outlets employing it and beacon producers and marketers coming up with innovations and new use-cases. It has become impossible today to speak of retail marketing and in-store customer experience without talking about beacon technology and its use-cases. Business Insider notes that, in 2015, more than half of the top 100 U.S retailers tested beacons and it predicts for beacon technology a three digit growth rate for the coming years. BI Intelligence reports an estimate of 4.5 million active beacons by the end of 2018, with 3.6 million put for retail use.
The hype around beacons in retail is closely connected to the pressing need for a change in retail marketing strategies to ensure customer acquisition and retention at a time of highly demanding and well aware consumers. Conventionally, retail CEOs have been setting their business strategies by standing out in any two of the eight primary factors, which are location, store, merchandise/assortment, visual merchandising, staff, service, mass media and communication and price, which could possibly ensure a sustained leadership. For example, Wal-Mart’s differentiation is based on low price and broad assortments while Nordstrom’s is based on service and highly specific assortments. However, the unprecedented technological and behavioral transformations transferred the nodal point of retail commerce from retailers to that of consumers, who are now ever more connected and informed with diverse purchase options. In order to respond to the changed consumer behavior, technology and purchasing power, retailers are resetting their marketing strategies realizing the influential role of customer relations in customer purchase decisions and the shift from mass communication to customer expectations for highly personalized campaigns. New forms of differentiation are appended by the retailers in this regard which would take into account and cater to the wanting of the changed scenario.
Beacons have proved to be the technology that could ensure for the customers a personalized in-store shopping experience and for the retailers a sustained hold over their customers. Beacons, as well, for the retailers provides an answer to the customer expectations towards a seamless omnichannel shopping experience. The US retail forecast for the year 2012-2016, issued by Deloitte Consulting, charts a remarkable increase in Mobile influenced retail store sales, from 158 billion in 2012 to 689 billion in 2016. At the same time eCommerce attained an increase from 226 billion to 327 billion, while with mCommerce it is an increase from 27 billion to 31 billion. Retail marketing at the moment is in a period of flux and there is a need for reconsideration of the conventional retail marketing strategies, where an unprecedented change is creating a great divide between those who act and those who wait and see.
Retailers are deploying and experimenting with a range of beacon use-cases and 2016 is predicted to produce much more experimentation and a larger consensus over beacon use cases in retail.
- The preliminary point about beacons in-store is the creation of a personalized engagement with the customer in-store during the process of shopping and retention of this engagement off-store as well through omni-channeling marketing strategies.
- Beacons can help to welcome the customers entering the store or any specific department inside the store.
- Customers can be retargeted in the most apt way using the customers’ shopping history. For example, a customer who visited a fitting room but failed to complete the purchase due to any reasons can be retargeted online.
- Beacons can redirect the customers from a busy queue to a larger store or less busy cash register thus preventing the diminishing of chances of completing the purchase or future purchases.
- Retailers can also notify their customers in the vicinity of a store keeping in tap with recent shopping history of the customer online or in other stores.
However, push notifications are not the only way for putting beacons to service.
Retailers can also,
- Enable customers as beacons: Even though, most talked about of beacons in retails is its capacity to send push notifications to customers’ smart phones, a two-way conversation can also be enabled by making the customers’ mobile devices act as transmitters allowing the customers to converse with other customers or associates. For instance, customers can request for assistance from within the specific retailer’s beacon network, which can be responded to quickly by an associate who can accurately locate the customer’s position from the beacon signal sent from the customer’s mobile device.
- Beacons can as well ease navigation inside the store, by providing the customers with personalized mapping and turn-by-turn directions to the products being sought for or other services. Beacons can leverage maps and direction respective of individual customers’ current location inside the store.
- The location data from the beacons can be leveraged to develop an analytics of customer behavior in-store which can be studied to develop better store-layout or associate management technique which could ensure higher conversion and retention rates.
- Also, using beacons as a platform for marketing campaigns makes it easier for the retailers to keep track of the results, while earlier, marketers had to conduct focused surveys and other projects to measure the impact of an ad, promotion or other campaigning.
Beacons are no more an alien technology in retail. The different use cases beacons are deployed and experimented with in different retail outlets points towards the immense potentialities and possibilities on different levels which only need good planning, focus and management.
- Carrefour, a leading international retailer, in 2014 October deployed proximity marketing strategies using beacons aiming enhancement of customer experience by boosting engagement and thus increasing sales with relevant data. Customers of Carrefour were welcomed personally on entrance and were provided with suggestions and other coupons based on previous purchases. Within six months there was a 600 percent increase in Carrefour app downloads and using and 400 percent increase in the time spent by customers interacting with the app, which is remarkable development.
- Apple implemented beacon technology in its stores in March 2013, enabling beacons near accessory walls and some selected devices. A customer approaching the product is then provided with additional product information. Apple also disclosed that it is leveraging the location data to study customer behavior in store.
- Tesco, a leading retailer, also conducted a beacon pilot test last year, starting out by alerting click-and -collect orders, in order to slowly develop into adding more personalized features like leading customers to the location of the products in their shopping list.
- Other prestigious retail outlets employing beacons include Walgreens owned drugstore Duane Reade, Wal-Mart and Motorola Solutions. Motorola Solution, in 2014, announced that it would be employing a combination of Bluetooth Beacons and Wi-Fi features.
While the value of sales derived from beacon technology was around $4 billion in 2015, it is predicted to meet an increase of over $44 billion this year, which proves that the technology is all set for a sharp increase in retail.
Watch an animated Video on Beacon Technology for Retail stores: bfonics-Retail Stores