A blog series on Shopper Marketing

By Cyndi Pyburn

The public’s insatiable appetite for technology is continuing to blur the lines between physical stores and online shopping. One of the hottest mobile topics for 2015 is beacon technology. Shoppers receive messages from the stores they pass offering them promotions, product reminders and other sales related information. How? Beacons are low-powered radio transmitters that can send signals to smartphones that enter their immediate vicinity via Bluetooth Low Energy technology.

For marketers, beacons are important because they allow more precise targeting of  customers in a locale. Many major retailers have beacon deployment strategies in place. There are many examples (these below are sourced from the Harvard Business Review):

  • Hudson’s Bay Company can offer seven separate in-store beacon triggered advertising campaigns via the SnipSnap coupon app. Their beacon program is run on the advertising platform Swirl.
  • Simon Malls in the US are putting location-based technology in more than 200 of their malls targeting the complexes’ common areas. Using their own Simon Malls app and the platform Mobiquity, relevant offers as well as information ranging from maps to dining options are found.
  • Shopping mecca, Regent Street in London England has had sensors installed at about 130 store entrances that can communicate with passersby. An app user must select what type of information they want to receive; the technology allows brands to build a detailed profile of customers who redeem online special offers, respond to mobile advertising and even enter the physical stores. Their beacon platform is run by Autograph.
  • Universal Display, a global mannequin company, is putting beacons inside mannequins in store windows. Passersby can instantly see the details of the outfit the mannequin is wearing and purchase any of its components right from their phones. Iconeme is both the beacon app and the platform.

For marketers and retailers, the goal is to build stronger relationships with customers who are regularly bombarded by advertising in the digital and retail worlds. Beacons can certainly elevate the omni-channel experience.

However, as with every new opportunity, there is a word of CAUTION for marketers: beacons can be quickly abused, firing off messages and offers to everyone who happens to pass, regardless of how relevant those offers are to them. Instead of driving engagement, poor beacon strategy will drive consumers out of the store and into the arms of another brand.