Chain Store Age

The Use Case for Beacons in Personalized Customer Brand Interaction

By Carin van Vuuren, CMO, Usablenet

When it comes to retail, online and physical aren’t mutually exclusive entities. Yet, conversations in the industry today too often focus on online sales dominating brick-and-mortar shopping, rather than the benefits of bridging the two together.

By reframing the discussion away from an “either/or,” retailers can create an entirely new set of opportunities to aid in engaging with their valued customers.

Beacon technology, while nascent, is arguably the most innovative customer engagement technique currently available. Smartphone ownership is drawing ever closer to ubiquity, making mobile one of the easiest ways for brands to connect with their customers on a more personal level.

Beacons, small units that use Bluetooth technology to transmit signals to mobile devices, enable a myriad of new, different ways to connect directly with consumers.

Beacon Technology Unlocks Opportunities for Brands Across Industries

Beacon technology enables consumers to opt-in to receive personalized messages from brands, including product details, exclusive coupons, and other targeted offers directly to a user’s mobile phone, based on their location. This technology is an effective and cost-efficient tactic for brands to connect their customer’s digital and physical experiences.

To facilitate successful Beacon communication and effectively engage consumers, brands must offer timely and informative messaging. If carried out effectively, Beacon campaigns will not only usher customers through their journey with personalized messaging, but will give brands an access point to gather reliable customer data and demographics to further personalize future alerts, discounts, sales, and more.

Proof Point: Retailers Personalizing For Success

Of the many Beacon use cases, retailers have standout examples of leveraging this location-based marketing to benefit in-store shoppers. Personalization and facilitating product education on a user’s own device are among the many benefits to Beacon implementation. Here is a sampling of the many ways Beacons can be deployed within the retail sector:

● Contextual information: Beacons give retailers the opportunity to push product information and tailored offers to in-store customers, based on their proximity to specific merchandise and different areas within a store.

● Incentives and promotions: Retailers can use Beacons to deliver targeted messages for upselling key products by sending mobile coupons to shoppers that are triggered when in the range of a promoted item.

● Wayfinding: In this same vein, retailers can actually guide shoppers through an in-store experience using notifications to direct customers to differet departments or showrooms.

● Personalization: Retailers can tap into customer data on past purchase history to suggest additional products / add-ons / complimentary gifts specific to each customers preferences.

● Self-service: Provides customers the opportunity to scan in-store items via mobile phone and add to a digital shopping bag. Customers can even pay on their phone with only one click -- saving time for both shoppers and in-store staff.

● Contactless payment: In partnership with PayPal, users can set up the PayPal app to allow for automatic purchases via mobile.

Kenneth Cole is a great example of a retailer making an early investment in Beacon technology to drive greater in-store engagement and heighten the customer experience. After launching its Beacon initiative, Kenneth Cole saw a significant lift in open rates of its mobile app, leading to higher redemption rates for in-store offers. The brand found a way to leverage mobile as a critical access point for shoppers, providing a valuable and personalized in-store experience while also boosting customer engagement and sales.

Tesco, on the other hand, is piloting Beacon technology to improve in-store customer service. For Tesco, Beacons are a way to give customers additional information on products while they’re making decisions on what to buy. These insights extend beyond product information and into contextual details as well, helping customers to pinpoint the location of specific foods on their grocery shopping lists.

Creating a Complete Customer Journey

More than ever, customers are willing to give up their personal information if they think they are getting enough from a brand in return. This symbiotic relationship gives savvy brands the opportunity to deliver personalized communication to consumers, leading to a visible ROI for brands.

The onus is therefore on brands to create messaging that is useful to customers without being obtrusive. Beacons give brands the opportunity to better understand their customers, making it easier to offer a world-class journey to valued customers.

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