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How Are Retail Stores And Venues Utilizing Beacons For Proximity Marketing?

Beacon marketing is a proximity marketing strategy that uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons to send targeted messages and promotions to nearby mobile devices. The goal of beacon marketing is to provide a personalized and contextualized experience to customers, increase engagement, and drive sales.

It’s important to note that the technology of beacons is different from geofencing. Beacons are not intended to track the location of individual users, but rather to provide contextual and personalized experiences to users who opt-in to receive them. In addition, users have the ability to disable Bluetooth and opt-out of location-based services if they choose to do so.

Beacons themselves do not know the exact latitude and longitude of the mobile devices or even the other beacons around them. Instead, beacons transmit a signal that contains a unique identifier, which is picked up by the mobile device within its range. The mobile device then uses this identifier to determine its proximity to the beacon, but not its exact location.

The mobile device then uses this signal to determine its location and trigger an action, such as displaying a notification or launching an app. The range of a beacon can vary depending on its power and environment but typically ranges from a few feet to up to 300 feet.

Popular platforms and hardware for beacons include Apple iBeacons: This is a proprietary protocol developed by Apple and is supported on iOS devices. iBeacons are widely used in retail stores, museums, and events. There are hundreds of other players in the market, most utilizing Altbeacon, an open-source protocol developed by Radius Networks and supported on both iOS and Android devices. AltBeacon is often used in enterprise environments and has a more extended range than other beacon protocols.

Proximity Marketing Use Cases For Beacons

By providing personalized and contextualized experiences to customers, retailers can increase engagement, improve customer loyalty, and drive sales. Here are a few examples:

  1. Personalized promotions: Retailers can use beacons to send targeted promotions and coupons to customers when they are near specific products or sections of the store. For example, a customer browsing in the shoe section may receive a notification for a discount on shoes.
  2. In-store navigation: Beacons can be used to provide indoor navigation and wayfinding to customers within a store. This can help customers find specific products and departments, enhancing their shopping experience and reducing frustration.
  3. Product information: Retailers can use beacons to provide customers with additional product information when they are near a product. For example, a customer can receive details about the material, care instructions, and customer reviews of a product when they are in close proximity to it.
  4. Loyalty programs: Retailers can use beacons to enhance their loyalty programs by offering rewards and incentives to customers who visit the store frequently or make purchases. For example, a customer who visits the store five times in a month may receive a special discount or reward.
  5. Queue management: Beacons can be used to monitor and manage customer traffic within a store. Retailers can use this information to adjust staffing levels and improve the customer experience during busy periods.
  6. Mobile payments: Retailers can use beacons to enable mobile payments and contactless transactions. Customers can pay for their purchases by simply tapping their mobile device on a beacon-enabled point-of-sale (POS) terminal.

Beacons have gained significant popularity in the retail industry over the past few years, with many retailers implementing beacon technology to improve the customer experience and drive sales.

The global beacon technology market size was valued at $1.14 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 59.8% from 2021 to 2028. The report cites the increasing adoption of beacon technology in retail and other industries as a key driver for this growth.

Grand View Research

Major Retailers Using Beacons for Proximity Marketing

Major retailers that have implemented beacon technology include Macy’s, Target, Walmart, Walgreens, and Kroger. These retailers have used beacons to enhance the in-store experience and provide customers with personalized offers, in-store navigation, and mobile payments.

  1. Macy’s: Macy’s has implemented beacon technology in its mobile app to provide customers with in-store navigation and personalized offers. The app can guide customers to specific products within the store and send notifications for sales and promotions when customers are in close proximity to a beacon.
  2. Target: Target uses beacon technology in its mobile app to provide customers with personalized recommendations and offers when they are in-store. The app can also guide customers to specific products and provide information about product availability and price.
  3. Walmart: Walmart has implemented beacon technology in its mobile app to provide customers with in-store navigation and personalized offers. The app can guide customers to specific products within the store and provide information about product availability and price.
  4. Walgreens: Walgreens uses beacon technology in its mobile app to provide customers with personalized offers and recommendations when they are in-store. The app can also guide customers to specific products and provide information about product availability and price.
  5. Sephora: Sephora uses beacon technology in its mobile app to provide customers with personalized recommendations and offers when they are in-store. The app can also provide customers with information about product availability and price, as well as help them locate specific products within the store.
  6. Kroger: The largest grocery retailer in the United States uses beacon technology in its mobile app to provide customers with personalized offers and promotions when they are in-store. The Kroger app uses beacon technology to send push notifications to customers when they are near a specific product or department in the store, informing them of relevant offers and promotions. It also automatically pops up their loyalty card barcode at check-out!

And it’s not just retail. Venues are also utilizing beacon technology!

Levi’s Stadium Concessions – Levi’s Stadium features nearly 17,000 Bluetooth beacons that fans can use to find their seats, the nearest restrooms, and concessions. Paired with the Levi’s Stadium app, visitors can even have food delivered right to their seats. In seven months, the app got 183,000 downloads with a 30% adoption rate — and a $1.25 million increase in concession revenue.

CleverTap

Beacon Proximity Marketing Platforms

You don’t have to develop your own solution to incorporate beacons into your mobile application and retail outlet. There are several beacon software as a service (SaaS) platforms available that allow businesses to easily deploy and manage beacon technology. These platforms typically provide a web-based dashboard that allows businesses to monitor and manage their beacons, create and manage campaigns, and track user engagement and analytics. Here are some popular beacon SaaS platforms:

  1. Kontakt.io: Kontakt.io is a leading provider of beacon technology and offers a web-based platform that allows businesses to manage and monitor their beacons. The platform provides real-time analytics, campaign management tools, and integration with third-party platforms.
  2. Estimote: Estimote is another popular provider of beacon technology and offers a cloud-based platform that allows businesses to manage their beacons and create proximity-based experiences. The platform provides real-time analytics, campaign management tools, and integration with third-party platforms.
  3. Flybuy: Flybuy is a large provider of beacon technology and solutions as well. When a customer comes in close range or enters the business, Flybuy Notify uses Bluetooth technology within the SDK to engage with customers and promote in-app experiences, including special promotions or loyalty rewards. 
  4. Gimbal: Gimbal is a comprehensive location-based marketing platform that offers beacon technology, geofencing, and analytics tools. The platform allows businesses to create personalized experiences for their customers based on their location and behavior and provides real-time analytics and insights.
  5. Cisco Spaces: Cisco Spaces is a cloud-based platform that offers beacon technology, Wi-Fi, and geofencing capabilities. The platform provides real-time analytics, campaign management tools, and integration with third-party platforms.

Read more examples and view some of the use cases at CleverTap, who provided this great overview infographic, Using Beacons for Proximity Marketing.

what is beacon marketing
Source: CleverTap

Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is CMO of OpenINSIGHTS and the founder of the Martech Zone. Douglas has helped dozens of successful MarTech startups, has assisted in the due diligence of over $5 bil in Martech acquisitions and investments, and continues to assist companies in implementing and automating their sales and marketing strategies. Douglas is an internationally recognized digital transformation and MarTech expert and speaker. Douglas is also a published author of a Dummie's guide and a business leadership book.

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