The What, How & Why of Beacons in Retail
  by Matthew Sabath, Director of Technology at Movista

Everyone knows about GPS – It’s the wonderful technology that allows us to know where we are in the world. It works great outside and in our cars but what about when we are inside of a building? That problem has been tackled in many different ways, but nothing has emerged that is quite as cheap and easy and reliable as Beacon technology. Beacon’s have the ability to transform all aspects of retail and we will tell you why.

What is Beacon technology?

Beacons are small, cheap low-energy Bluetooth transmitters. Applications installed on your device listen for signals transmitted by these beacons and respond by sending out some type of information to the device when it comes within range.

For example, if you pass a beacon in a museum, it would provide information about the piece of art you are closest to. It uses the signal from the beacon to determine your location. This makes it ideal for determining your location, down to inches, inside a building – which is something nearly impossible for GPS to do.

What does this mean for the retail experience?

“iBeacon holds tremendous promise for the retail industry by providing a more customized approach to in-store shopping,” said Lisa Falzone, CEO and co-founder of Revel Systems. Using transmitters that are placed throughout the store, shoppers who opt-in can be reminded of items a spouse has put on a shared list, earn loyalty rewards, or be presented a special offer. It allows for the right message to be presented at the right time to the right person.

This can backfire though. Everybody likes getting a discount, but if a shopper is bombarded with irrelevant offers, it’s not going to work. The key is finding a nonintrusive and relevant marketing strategy. If you can engage the customer appropriately, everyone wins.

What does this mean for retailers?

Beacon technology opens the door wide for analytics and productivity gains. A retailer can overlay traffic patterns of their customers to see what products they are looking at and at what point in their visit they are seeing them. They could use it to determine the location of your employees to find areas that need more staffing or that are overstaffed. Devices could be used on high value inventory to monitor the movement of that item throughout the store. Geofencing inside of a building is now possible as well, meaning you can tell the moment someone has entered a certain department or section of the store.

What is Movista doing with Beacon technology?

At Movista, we are very excited about the future with Beacons. If you have questions or have a particular goal in mind, let us know! We would love the opportunity to increase your customer engagement using Beacon technology.