Just how many definitions, hybrid words and types of technology can you handle? We’ve talked about Financial Technology and Blockchain, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, InsurTech and DeFi but the list seems to be growing longer and longer every single month.
Technology is evolving and so are its applications and use cases. Today, we’ll have a look at beacon technology, a breed of tech that has been around for 6-7 years but has really matured in the last 2. What is beacon technology and why should you care about it?
In simple, physical terms, beacons work as small wireless Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) radio transmitters. That doesn’t sound impressive, does it? On the contrary, it sounds quite basic if you consider the heights and depths of today’s technological advancement.
But don’t be in a rush to judge the almighty beacon as a standalone unit. The value of this technology is hidden in what it can do as part of an ecosystem, an extended set of devices that are connected with it.
These unassuming small devices are the latest craze in location based technology and proximity marketing as their simplistic nature brings about impressive results. Made of only a CPU (central processing unit), batteries, radio and a unique ID, beacons connect to devices such as your mobile phone and are ready to do what they do best: transmit data.
The beacon, powered by Bluetooth technology, becomes a link between consumer and device, a communication vessel that carries real-time information. Let’s see some applications of beacon technology to get a better understanding how it works for consumers and marketers alike.
How Do They Add Value?
The use cases for this technology are endless.
Let’s start with retail. Picture a customer entering a grocery store. From the moment they step in, they are bombarded with information. So many isles, so many items.
Even the organised ones that come with checklists are sucked into the wilderness of buying more stuff. Amidst all of this craziness and the battle between needs and wants, it’s almost impossible for the consumer to focus on offers.
This is where beacon technology can work its magic. Beacons can send timely notifications to consumers about specific item offers the moment they enter the corresponding isle. The same can happen when a consumer approaches the checkout. A mobile app notification can remind them of the loyalty rewards and benefits of paying via their mobile wallet or the supermarket card.
The beacon becomes a marketing supertool for business owners as it delivers real time information and guides consumers through the shopping experience.
The value of beacons is not only related to sales and retail. Put yourself in a situation where you visit an art gallery or a museum. Beacon technology can literally act as your tour guide. The moment you get close to a painting or a statue, beacons can relay the necessary description and information to your phone. You can either read or listen to that information at the privacy of your own mobile phone, navigating the space in any order or sequence you find pleasing.
This specific type of automation can be replicated in an airport environment with impressive results. Airports are asked to handle large numbers of people and process sensitive information in a short time-span. Self check-ins were the first steps towards a streamlined, efficient and effective airport procedure but there’s still a lot to be done.
Changi Airport was voted the World’s Best Airport by air travellers at the 2017 World Airport Awards for the fifth year in a row and using beacons were a huge reason for that. Used for anything from bag tagging to automatic immigration checks, the airport made it its mission to transform the entire travelling experience in a do-it-yourself affair.
You’re starting to get a sense of the versatility of beacon technology, right? You want one more example? We’ll give you two.
The first one is real estate. Real estate companies can leverage the power of beacon technology to push notifications to a visitor’s phone and give them all the relevant information about a property. From prices and images to specs and bidding, beacons can turn the real estate user experience to something fun, engaging and informative for the consumer.
The second one is…libraries. Yes, libraries. Imagine walking into a library, and all you have to do is take your phone out. Search for books, locate the isle they’re at, reserve or renew them and even add library events to your calendar all by just using the beacon-mobile relationship.
Why Should Business Owners Care?
You would think that the favorite currency for business owners is the dollar ($), or any other currency they accept payments in for that matter. Whilst cash is the ultimate goal, the path to getting there involves a currency that seems to be ranking higher in terms of importance: data.
Why do Google and Facebook sit at the top of the business world? They are data kings. The amount of information and the level of detail they have on consumers allows them to target their audience efficiently.
Beacons are yet another way for businesses to aggregate data and enrich their data bank. Identifying patterns, trends and behaviors allows business owners to structure and curate their marketing plan more carefully and make sure that customers stay engaged through more frequent and varied touchpoints.
The multipurpose nature of beacon technology make it a perfect fit for businesses of all sizes and industries. Here’s a list of the overall benefits:
- Advertising tool
- Cheap to acquire, maintain, manage and replace
- Real-time interaction with customers
- Personalizes and gamifies the shopping experience
- Data acquiring vessel
- Enables the use of mobile payments and digital wallets
- Enforces the use of loyalty programs and reward schemes