Beacon will change the way we shop

beaconSeveral days ago, our professor of digital marketing told about the latest mobile trends. When she introduced Beacon that allow Apps to listen for signals from Beacons in the physical world, I found a new world for the mobile marketing field. After all, it means that our shopping process will change drastically.

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You probably have no idea about how the Beacon works. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you.

ibeacon-communicationBeacon can be divided into two parts, broadcast and receiver. Broadcast means the device that can send signals like text and pictures to other devices. Receiver means the device that can get the information sent by broadcast and react accordingly. In general, broadcast is a fixed device in stores and receiver is the smartphone used by us. They use Bluetooth to communicate with each other, which makes this function more location-based.

Now, you can see, the Beacon is a location-based service which enables consumers to get nearby useful information. How does this technology affects our real life? It mainly has three usage.

Shopping-with-Beacon.jpgFirst, with Beacon, businesses can target their consumers more accurately. Because the broadcast device we use to send information can only reach people nearby, we can find our consumers and send them useful information instead of sending private offers to everyone all over the world.

Second, it enables consumers to know more information. When people turn on the Bluetooth and use specific App to receive message, they can get more information than they can get in the store, like videos, reviews and even social updates.

Third, Beacon gives insights to businesses. Since consumers will use Beacon to get information. The broadcast can get useful messages including how long consumers stay in front of specific products and what are their reactions. In this way, they can get the quantitative data to analyze consumers’ behavior to make corresponding changes.

So, we can know that Beacon can really benefit both of consumers and businesses a lot. However, it still has a couple of drawbacks.

The first problem might be the situation that signals can’t penetrate obstacles like walls and people. It is caused by the technology called Bluetooth Low Energy. BLE can provide the broadcast with a great battery life. As the result, the device has a low strength and can’t reach consumers easily sometimes.

Besides, there is another annoying thing that the message can be replicate. Imagine that you go to Saks Fifth Avenue and get three same messages from Diesel just because you go across the same area for three times, what would you do? Maybe stay away from the area and avoid visiting the same places in Saks. Therefore, in this case, Beacon makes our consumers’ shopping experience worse.

Although it has several problems, it is still an amazing technology that can change people’s life. Thus, a lot of companies including Nike and Ikea are developing it. Here is an example of Nike, maybe we can learn something.

In this video, Nike shows that we can use the Beacon App to find the information of nearby products and buy it online. In my opinion, it’s ok but needs to be better. Like what we mentioned before, it should also give consumers the special offers and let consumers enjoy a high-involvement purchase. For instance, when consumers are waiting in line to check the products out, the App can send them the latest events and advertising. At the same time, if they share the content on their social media, they can get 10% off. In this way, I think consumers can not only save money but also learn more about Nike.

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According to the discussion above, we can see that the future of Beacon is great even though the technology is not perfect now. As consumers, what we can do is to wait for the better version of this technology. As marketers, we need to think more, including how it can be used in our companies and how consumers can get benefit from it.

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