The sky's the limit for retailers using beacon technology
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The sky's the limit for retailers using beacon technology

In 2015 the Internet of Things (IoT) is dictating the e-commerce and retail agenda. The retail sector has already generated billions of dollars of additional revenue thanks to the added value provided by innovative approaches in marketing campaigns like people counting solutions, RFID labels and, of course, beacon technology. But how can the Internet of Things help increase sales? In this two-part article we will explain how these new approaches can be used to the benefit of retailers and e-commerce companies.


Internet of Things solutions can help realise the conventional marketing goals of both physical and online stores.


Turning the IoT into profit

1) By monitoring customer consumption habits, both in physical stores and online, IoT technology makes it possible to collect a broad range of data that can be used to build detailed customer profiles. This information enables you to shift your attention away from the masses and to refocus on the way that individual customers perceive your products.

2) In doing so, this approach creates an opportunity for you to offer customers the products they need when they need them.

Leveraging the IoT to increase sales begins with these two points. By using a variety of measurement and monitoring tools at points of contact with customers, the technology can collect a wealth of data that provides an insight into customer habits. This in turn helps you to get a step ahead of your customers, allowing you to offer them the product they might need before they even approach you. Profits are also increased by the fact that the process can be managed and monitored remotely, thus bringing operational costs down to almost zero. Thus the strength of beacons in the retail space is their ability to increase sales by attracting customers back towards particular brands.


By using beacons you can:

  • improve revenue by increasing customer loyalty and strengthening brand value
  • encourage cross sales and convince customers to buy more expensive products
  • conduct real-time product marketing
  • improve customer service ratings
  • increase revenue by ensuring you sell the products you have in stock
  • improve the efficiency in reordering items from your supply chain
  • reduce the total cost of ownership
  • ensure business continuity


All this is possible because beacons interact with customers’ smartphones, giving you information on your customers’ precise location, the time they spend in different departments or sections, the products they show the most interest in, and the frequency of their visits to the store. The system then compiles and analyses this data, making it possible to gain accurate insights and to guess which products the customer might purchase on their current or next visit.


19% growth in 2015

Today millions of devices are connected to the Internet and in the near future electronic tags, smart devices and wearable technological products like fitness trackers and smart watches will multiply. With the addition of beacons, the number of devices connected to the Internet will soon be almost limitless. From POS devices to fitting room sensors, a new breed of devices will be connected to tablets and smartphones via the Internet or using other communication technologies.


According to the IT market intelligence company International Data Corporation, the market for IoT solutions will grow by 19% by the end of 2015, and the fastest growing segment will be that of digital information and signage displays.


Onsite marketing

In addition to physical store sales, beacons will also help increase online purchases. Products that customers have shown an interest in, or which are relevant to their profile, can be displayed directly on their phone. Discount offers and opportunities to gain extra loyalty points will also encourage customers to purchase your products, or else to shop at stores belonging to your business partners. In fact, the entire customer journey can be planned out using beacons.


Consider the following scenario: A customer sits down in a fast food restaurant and a beacon located at her table immediately starts communicating with her phone, showing her the menu, related adverts, and information about discount offers and loyalty programmes. Then, instead of queuing at the counter, the customer makes her order without leaving her seat.


Other potential benefits of beacons can be observed from the example of the world’s largest e-commerce business: Amazon. Customers in the US, Germany and the UK have asked Amazon to open physical stores, and the retail giant has responded by launching small shops and supermarkets under the Amazon Fresh brand. Their physical and online stores have thus created a marketing synergy that has increased sales. Beacons strengthen this relationship by connecting physical platforms to online media.


Beacons and interest-based advertising

Customised advertising can be placed on the websites most visited by potential customers, meaning that the chances of such adverts reaching their target audiences is relatively high. This type of approach often makes use of mobile video ads, which are also very well suited to beacon-supported marketing.


For example, this solution would enable you to trace a customer so that as soon as they enter your store you could send information on discounts and promotional campaigns directly to their smartphones. This could include images, videos and digital coupons.


In fact, you could use beacon campaigns even if you don’t own your own store, since you can easily arrange joint campaigns with locations belonging to other businesses with which you are partnered. Imagine, for instance, that you operate an e-commerce business selling custom-designed jewellery. You could make a deal with a supermarket chain and send their customers your adverts and campaigns.


In short, beacons are one of the Internet of Things’ most useful components, helping to increase sales through onsite marketing and providing major benefits to SMEs by facilitating close monitoring of customer behaviour.