Last week we discussed how the face of Local and Social Search may be changing as new apps and platforms are developed to create highly personalized search results. But what goes on once we’re through the door of brick-and-mortar locations might be changing as well. Case in point, the “beacon” and its ability to facilitate mobile communication with customers while they’re in your store or location.
Beacons—small pieces of hardware that use Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) connections to “talk” wirelessly to your devices—automatically activate merchant advertising, coupons, announcements, payment services and general interactions on a user’s device as they move within a set of boundaries.
Beacon technology and the iBeacon are not really “new” technologies. Apple actually announced it at 2013’s World Wide Developers Conference, and started testing them in Apple stores as early as last December. Google, of course, is fast on their heels with Google Nearby. With the Silicon Rivals set to clash, we’re curious to see what Google has to say at their developer’s conference next week.
Apple’s iBeacon has been popping up at some high profile events to engage users in attendance (and presumably some press attention as well), with the Tribeca Film Festival and SXSW being two examples.
Live events and popular attractions like museums are one thing, but we’re also intrigued at the possibilities of a technology that could streamline customers' in-store experience in retail settings:
“Apple's Grand Central store is...a place where you can now walk in, pick up a boxed Apple TV device, buy it and walk out without ever talking to an Apple salesperson or even visiting a checkout counter. It's possible, I've seen it done.”
Beacon technology can also be used to lure nearby consumers into stores with, say, the offer of an additional coupon sent to their device via the beacon in that store. The implication is that retailers can further influence their customers even when they’re already standing in their store–given they have downloaded the necessary apps and haven’t opted-out of receiving beacon interaction.
We’re excited to see where this technology will take the in-person retail experience. Coupled with Where2GetIt’s accurate, compelling and thoughtful digital search solutions, we can help get more customers through your door. You can learn more by exploring our Local Search Suite or downloading our free eBook, “The Local Search Challenge.”