The New York Times had an interesting story on personalized retail offers. A woman on a shopping trip to New York received an iPhone alert with a $25 discount on a bag she had liked on the retailer’s website. She got the alert as she neared the store’s entrance, and it cemented her decision to buy the bag. Such a level of personalization – that delights the consumer by paying attention to her needs – is now not just ideal but also possible.
To receive such push notifications, consumers need to activate their phone’s location services. A study conducted by beacon platform Swirl found that 73% shoppers were triggered to make an in-store purchase after receiving a beacon enabled message on their smartphones.
With in-store decision rates as high as 82% for mass merchants, it is hardly surprising that retailers are looking at employing beacons to push timely, contextualized messages. Department stores such as Macy’s, supermarkets like Marsh, and fashion brands such as Michael Kors are trying to create a more meaningful customer experience by deploying beacons in their stores.
Merging the digital and physical worlds
Today’s hyperconnected customers shop on various channels and demand a consistent omni-channel experience. Beacons are relatively inexpensive to acquire and set up, and can help deliver seamless, contextualized experiences. Let’s say a customer browses online and adds certain items to the online cart, only to abandon the cart at the end. You can use this information to trigger a coupon to the customer’s mobile phone the moment he or she walks into your beacon enabled store.
Such a personalized approach can be augmented by in-store sales personnel. Beacons also help understand in-store traffic patterns. A heat map can be generated for the store to understand how customers navigate the store and identify most-visited sections. This helps retailers take informed decisions on store layout, stocking, and product placement – all of which can improve in-store conversions.
Use of beacons in other industries
Retailers are not the only companies using beacons. The technology is finding applications across industries. Starwood Hotels is looking to replace room keys with beacons while American Airlines is using it to improve engagement with customers at the airport. Professional Golfer Association (PGA) integrated beacons with its app to enable a feature called Binoculars that allows users to locate groups of players in the vicinity. The airport in Nice, France recently integrated beacon technology into its multi-functional app to provide real-time information to passengers, and tailored retail experiences to frequent flyers for a seamless airport experience.
Although beacons can help create a delightful personal experience, it is imperative that businesses control the frequency of messages sent to the customers. Nordstrom crafts highly personalized messages for its customers, and also makes sure customers don’t receive the same message twice within 72 hours. Establishing a strategy that drives the frequency and nature of communication is important to engage customers, without annoying them.
Understand your customer better to improve outcomes
The recently concluded National Retail Federation’s (NRF) Big Show 2016, featured Beacon as one of the Exhibitor Big !deas for its ability to transform retail experience. It can be easily integrated with any retail hardware and many retailers are looking to do just that. Walkbase is planning to integrate beacons with their WiFi hardware, RetailNext with their Aurora video analytics sensors, and House of Fraser with their mannequins.
Combining beacons with Big Data and analytics can help businesses take beacon technology even further by analyzing the data generated to optimize operations, deliver a superior customer experience, and improve the bottom line.
Analytics certainly helps you offer better tailor-made offers for your loyal customers. Have you tried the beacon technology to win deeper customer loyalty? Let us know in the comments below.