Waitrose and Timberland are among the big, household names to have started experimenting with the new Bluetooth-powered technology called ‘iBeacons’. But what are these mysterious pieces of hardware and how exactly do they work?
iBeacons are a type of low-cost, micro-location-based technology that use Bluetooth to transmit messages or prompts directly to a smartphone or tablet. Many advertisers have expressed an interest in utilising the technology as a proximity based marketing tool.
Image credits: Estimote
Indeed, retail outlets such as Macy’s are planning to adopt iBeacons to boost engagement with customers by providing them with product information and flash sales at the point of purchase.
Have you ever walked into a store knowing exactly what you want but not sure where to find it? iBeacons may be the answer. If the store places iBeacons around the walls and creates a map of their store, the customer (using the app) can choose what item they want and be directed to the exact location of the product, and even be offered the opportunity to buy it there and then with home delivery – all without the need for interaction with the sales staff! The retailers benefit too – gaining invaluable data about their customers’ shopping habits.
Airports have also started to adopt the iBeacon as a way to provide notifications on gate assignments and delays delivered instantly to passengers phones, thus improving their customers’ overall experience.
So is customer service about to undergo a fundamental change? Perhaps not. Since downloading iOS8 have you wondered how and why you are receiving app suggestions in the bottom left of your phone whilst out and about in town? Here lies the main barrier to the success of iBeacon technology, customers have to voluntarily download and install a smartphone app, turn on their bluetooth and agree to location services for it to work.
However, there’s no need to worry about being suddenly bombarded with notifications. The icon appears on your screen without a noise and will disappear once you are out of the reach of the iBeacon.
We believe that whilst the introduction of iBeacon technology certainty poses challenges, if retailers can offer a candidly beneficial and contextually relevant experience to customers, we believe iBeacon technology has the potential to go mainstream over the next few years.
What do you think?