You are just entering the baseball park for a big game. As you enter, you receive a push prompt on your iPhone to create an account with MLB.com. By doing this, you will then be the recipient of messages from sensors throughout the park that will direct you to your seats, give you information on unsold better seats, if you want to upgrade, or even tell you which concession line is shortest. Pretty amazing, and it’s private.
A baseball park or a brick and mortar store is not, of itself, online. But now there is a way to connect that offline structure with individuals who are online. The technology is called iBeacon, and it is fast becoming a method by which businesses can take in-house CX to the next level.
What is an iBeacon?
Beacons are nothing more than wireless sensors which can be placed around your establishment to connect with consumers who are physically there or at least in close proximity. They can push notifications to customers about specials and discounts, can provide product descriptions and coupons in real time, and can direct customers to the best sales in the house.
For retailers and other organizations (airports, bus stations, museums, etc.), getting iBeacons is as easy as buying them from a manufacturer (there are now many of them). They are pretty low-cost pieces of hardware. They use Bluetooth low-energy connections to send messages or prompts to a tablet or smartphone.
While iBeacon technology is already installed within the latest Apple devices, most customers still have to have a Bluetooth receiver and turn it on. Consumers do want and use Bluetooth receivers for many functions and will select good ones once they have studied Bluetooth receiver reviews. So, even older devices will not have a problem with iBeacon technology.
Once the technology is in place, the consumer also has to accept the location services and opt-in to a business or organization notifications. Thus far, this does not seem to be a problem, as consumers understand that their opt-ins also provide for opt-outs, that their interactions are private, and that, as customers, they can move about and shop with much greater efficiency and speed.
If You Are on the Fence
As a business owner with a physical structure or two, you probably already understand the benefits of iBeacon technology. And, now that you know it is low-cost and easy to install, what is holding you back? Consider the benefits:
iBeacon May Become Your Best Marketing Tool
Internet-based marketing is noisy and crowded. Consumers tire of it quickly unless they are hugely captivated by a video or amazingly entertaining content. And most Internet-based marketing occurs when a consumer is not in physical proximity to your business.
And you can set the range of your beacons, so that they will also reach those in proximity but not yet inside.
In short, your marketing is as efficient as it can be, even though you, of course, will not want to abandon your online marketing for other customers.
Amazing Value to Your Customers
Your customer enters your store. iBeacon will pick up the signal and send them a warm greeting, prompting them to set up an account or login. Ask them what they are looking for; provide a map of the store; track where they are going and what they are stopping to look at; push out a coupon for the item. And when they leave, send them a “thank you” for shopping farewell.
Analyze Customer Behavior
Real-time analytics is provided by iBeacon for customers as they navigate through your store. And aggregate analytics is also available. What products are most popular? What is not selling? You can actually manage your inventory much better.
Bluetooth Negates Bad/Lost Signals
Losing signals happens inside buildings. With Bluetooth technology, iBeacons continue to work. You can still communicate with your customers as they shop
If you own a brick and mortar establishment, you know you need to step it up, if you intend to compete with online e-commerce. Geolocation and indoor technology is really the answer, even though businesses are still reluctant to use it. It probably is not a question of not wanting to but, rather, a lack of understanding of how it actually works and how they can use it as a marketing tools. Do yourself a favor. If you are not yet on board with iBeacons, do some more research, discover all of the applications it has for your business, and begin to implement it. Your competitors are probably already doing so.
Freelance writer and digital marketing buff. Five years in online marketing. One year as a World Teach Volunteer. I love testing custom acquisition growth hacks and always on the look out for new startups.