The Future of Beacon Technology

The scope of beacon technology use is expected to balloon within the next several years. While beacons have made the biggest waves in the retail sector as of now, thought leaders like ABI Research anticipate retail to become the smallest market for beacon use compared to the expanding market as a whole.

ABI predicts that 60 million BLE beacon devices will be shipped by 2019, and they even admit that number may be a conservative estimate. Given that one keynote speaker at this year’s SXSW conference suggested that around 50 percent of major retailers were using beacon platforms at one or more of their stores, the belief that retail applications will soon be dwarfed speaks volumes about how beacon platforms will transform the professional world.

So what else could be in store for store beacons? While there is no way of knowing for certain, a glimpse into the “crystal ball” of thought leadership may yield clues, along with plenty more questions.

Loyalty Program Automation

Currently, the use of beacons to create targeted offers entices retail brands and the most loyal or thrift-minded of their customer base. While spur-of-the-moment coupons and offers can be exciting, they do not offer a long-term, value-added experience compared to some other campaigns.

Loyalty programs do, though. Loyal customers can earn their own “loyalty equity” through consistent, repeat purchases. Bargain-hunting customers can be persuaded to gradually build up to savings with a long-term investment in a brand rather than being “digital coupon clippers.”

While most major retailers already have some version of a loyalty program, beacons can help these programs reach deeper levels of engagement. Beacon platforms can also simplify loyalty programs to iron out kinks like the classic “I forgot my loyalty card” moment. Store check-ins can be automated to award loyalty points when a customer walks through the door. Accumulated loyalty points can remind a customer that they have a special discount on certain products when they walk up to the beacon-enabled display.

Applications like these push beacon-enabled loyalty programs into gamification mindsets, all while gathering robust customer data to inform marketing decisions and personalized one-to-one interactions.

Transforming the Venue Experience

The hospitality and event business is particularly excited about how beacons can create unique, interactive, digital experiences for people visiting a particular location. Current NBA champions the Golden State Warriors are eagerly anticipating the opening of their new arena in 2018. A 12 acre complex in San Francisco will not only play home to the Warriors, it will also contain retail space, entertainment venues, restaurants and parks.

Beacons will be installed throughout the complex to help visitors navigate its enormous layout while also giving them information and offers. The current Warriors stadium in Oakland, California is already piloting the technology in order to send people heading to the “nosebleed” section seat upgrade options when there are unused seats closer to the action. Fans also receive notifications for special promotions at the concession stand, such as a free popcorn with purchase of a slice of pizza and a drink.

Looking Even Further

The simplicity of beacon platforms means that the potential for campaigns to enhance the customer experience has barely been explored. Several beacon functions are currently available without a clear direction of how digital retail marketing executives will utilize them. They include:

  • Automated messaging upon entering or leaving the beacon range
  • Tracking of foot traffic into a particular area
  • Automated webcam snaps triggered by beacon interactions
  • Dynamic lighting or music cues when someone enters the beacon range

Savvy, forward-thinking marketers can use these applications to serve creative purposes, such as greeting a loyal customer with fanfare on their birthday when they enter the store, or sending them a snapshot of the checkout line when they leave the dressing room to decide if they should keep shopping or get in the queue.

Digital Social Retail allows brands to unlock this deeper range of potential and use their imaginations to come up with unique ways to surprise and delight their customers with beacon platform functionality. Visit our beacon platform page to discover more about how beacons are blazing new paths in the digital retail marketing frontier.

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