In today's technologically-advanced age, if you're not up to speed with the latest gadgets and software, you may be falling behind. And in the wake of the online shopping boom, retailers have seen their sales decrease as customers increasingly turn to their hand-held devices to check out product reviews, service feedback, and competing discounts - even while in-store. Captivating your shoppers' concentration, now, is of vital importance in order to trump the online sales.
But the question on everyone's lips is: how? How can retailers crack the digital code and connect with their shoppers on an intimate level, without overstepping the fine line from helpful to pushy?
Overdosing on email marketing? No.
Flooding their post boxes with reams of coupons? No.
Bombarding their screens with advertisements? No.
Providing assistance that makes their purchase process smoother, disclosing valuable information that saves them more, and being nice and friendly? Yes.
This is where beacon technology comes in. The proverbial ace hidden up a sleeve, beacon technology is poised to flip the struggle between online and retail sales on its head, by providing a fully-integrated, tremendously helpful and indispensably valuable service for shoppers.
So, what is it?
What is beacon technology?
Beacon technology bridges that gap between the shopper's private world (and their device-of-choice) and their retail environment. It provides store owners with their own front-of-house greeter, ready and waiting for each shopper that walks past. But instead of relying on a chipper, fresh-faced staff member to hand out flyers or samples, beacon technology provides you with your very own friendly and alert virtual assistant - and the hardware to support it costs less than $10.
Engage customers on their most used device.
How it works
Utilizing Bluetooth frequencies, beacon technology can identify and reach out to any shopper that walks past. Provided that they have the relevant store or brand's app installed on their smartphone or tablet, they can be targeted by a beacon. But what makes beacon technology unique is that it can "wake up" such apps that may have long sat idle on a consumer's tablet or smartphone.
By alerting and restarting such dormant applications, shoppers can then be contacted to receive a message of any type. A welcome greeting, an update on a current sale, or even information regarding relevant fashion trends can be sent directly to potential customers, helping to draw them inside, view this great Forbes article for more information.
If you have a tablet wall mount setup for example, an app can pull data from the customers phone and show them information related to interests they have previously selected, or even items related to previous purchases.
Personalized messages can flash across a customer's smartphone as they browse through a rack of dresses, or try on hats, notifying them of current fashion trends or seasonal discounts. It can also provide up-to-the-minute information for staff members and sales assistants, who can then assist customers better by using beacon-integrated tablet displays.
But do take note: the technology works best when the messages transmitted are specific, taking not only the customer's gender and shopping preferences into consideration, but also their physical location in the store. Text that screams "50% off winter boots!" while they're looking for suitcases may inform them of the fact, but may also come off as pushy or forceful, and could cause shoppers to opt-out of the service. However, a message that highlights current color trends in duffel bag design, plus access to a coupon that will save them 15% off, would be right on target.
Send product information straight to a customers phone.
Why is beacon technology relevant?
Consider your tablet or smartphone's application index. How many times have you downloaded an app and then forgot about it quickly afterward? Today's retail shoppers are often in the same predicament. In a study conducted by Vibes, "59% said their opinion of a retailer would be more positive if they started to receive coupons and offers that could be saved on their smartphones", but consumers only actively participated in half the number of loyalty programs they were signed up for. Forgetfulness, and a never-ending 'to-do' list are usually the culprits, but a lack of engagement, or the wrong type of contact from brands and stores also plays a significant factor.
But when you consider the fact that "81% of consumers are more likely to continue doing business with brands that offer loyalty programs", these targeted shoppers, who have downloaded apps and already have an established connection, have a much higher potential to not only become repeat customers, but also lifelong brand ambassadors. Business owners should also think about getting some form of a tablet and iPad stand to offer signup opportunities.
The way of the future
According to a survey conducted by our marketing team, 93% of business owners agreed it's important to merge digital capabilities into physical locations to improve the customer experience. That is, an overwhelming majority of executives have identified the importance of engaging and interacting with customers via their smartphones and tablets to improve their in-store, real-life retail adventures, and as a way to beat online shopping.
Beacon technology holds the key to unlocking the sales potential of millions of shoppers over the next few decades. By connecting with consumers in a non-confronting, helpful manner, it can help nurture customer relationships, make loyalty flourish, and provide an unforgettable, and seamless shopping experience.