All new technologies have an adoption lifecycle. Before a product hits a maturity milestone, it remains mostly in the shadows, out of sight and its purpose obscure. The next stage is to hype the product where expectations are often unrealistic. Beacons have traveled this path, going from mystery item to a marketing revolution.
For 2019, market analysts are announcing that we are out of the early adopter phase and savvy marketing teams have already learned successful strategies. While relatively overlooked, some are positioning themselves to leverage this technology as a strategy for earning more market share. Will 2019 be the year you get onboard?
DESCRIBE A BEACON
Beacons are typically made as unassuming small, wireless transmitters that use low-energy Bluetooth technology. As a stationary object, they send out signals to nearby smart devices, like a person’s smartphone. They work at connecting and transmitting information to these smart devices and backend systems as an innovative means to improve sales and operational efficiency.
PAINTING A PICTURE
Imagine your a customer visiting a mall where your favorite barista works. Today, you are with your wife shopping for shoes, but just as you happen to pass near this coffee shop which you often patronize, your phone sends you a message inticing you to stop in for a 2 for 1 special earning you double loyalty points. This is a simple example of how beacon technology is working today.
Since Apple introduced beacon technology in 2013, it has advanced considerably in capabilities and recognition. The success stories from major retailers are boosting the popularity of beacons. Starbucks integrated proximity marketing with its popular loyalty mobile app. In 2018, eMarketer reported that over 40 million purchases made on the Starbucks app.
Analysts show a major surge in this beacon technology market. Forecasters predict more than 400 million beacons deployed by 2020. Global Market Insights has predicted the beacon market to surpass $25 billion by 2024. All of this is coupled with the global market penetration of smartphones, support from Google and Apple; it is no wonder followers are optimistic about the future of beacon technology.
Competition in the market is characterized by new product development and innovative use cases. A sampling of new innovative ideas is summarized below.
- RETAIL: From in-store coupons delivered via beacons to customer phones, to collecting data building loyalty programs, retail has been the principal market for beacons.
- PAYMENTS: The plan is to allow beacons to trigger an automatic payment when a person enters a specific location so that their shopping experience is effortless.
- EVENTS: Beacons will boost ticket sales for theaters, stadiums, and all event venues.
- CONTENT DELIVERY: Publishing and media companies expand their reach by positioning beacons in busy pedestrian hubs and send out offers to passing customers.
- WAREHOUSE MANAGEMENT: Warehouse logistics and efficiency gains become possible with “Smart Shelves” equipped with beacons having built-in RFID receivers. These units transmit data to inventory back-end systems, reporting exactly where a product is located.
- TRANSPORTATION: Improved safety and convenience to the public with beacons deployed in airports, train stations, and bus stations to alert commuters of delays, changes, and weather conditions.
- HOME SAFETY & SECURITY: People deploy smart beacons in their own home. The beacons send reminders, warnings or use escalation flows to broadcast real-time danger. Integrated home safety systems will ask customers if they remembered to turn off the basement light, lock the doors or close the windows.
Beacons have a significant advantage over other technologies because they are relatively inexpensive as compared to other IT capital investments. Accordingly, businesses can fund pilot programs to test returns with minimal risk. A growing number of organizations already have proximity marketing in their budgets, but if your team isn’t convinced, try a consultation with subject matter experts to flush out ideas and overcome concerns.