iBeacon Explained

iBeacons that transmit specialized messages to the BLE (Blue Tooth Low Energy) technology chip in Apple’s iPhones is a low-key experiment of Apple’s still is in its infancy. Yet, iBeacon has the potential to change the economic landscape of the country not only for retail usage, but also for almost any business you can think of. From the giant retail chains like Old Navy, Starbucks and Macy’s to smaller concerns like the local hair salon or health spa, all can and are benefitting from this new technology.

iBeacon: Monitoring of customer movement and attracting them to sales

If you are a storeowner, the BLE-enabled smartphones can be used for a variety of features. One that comes to mind first, of course is the sending of specialty-purposed advertising to the smartphone user. This could be in the form of discounts and/or sale information.

The placement of the iBeacons needs to be planned out beforehand, because these units operate on a distance function.  You need to be sure they are placed to not only reach the right customers in the right place but also you must  consider how far away they are. Currently the iBeacon uses three distance settings: Far, Near and Immediate.

These three distances allow you to customize the customers experience with 3 different messages in order to offer additional enticements to get them to buy as they approach certain items that you are interested in having them purchase. This “Ranging” feature is very flexible and allows for the customization of the message to further attract a smartphone user’s attention and arouse their curiosity and the buy reflex as they near the item the iBeacon is broadcasting about.

But, an idea that is even more interesting is the iBeacon’s ability for trilateration. This means the iBeacon can build you a map of customer movement throughout the store and you can then determine the best places to place your products so they will get the most exposure. Couple this with the 3 levels of advertising possible and you can almost assure the product you want to sell will be sold quickly.

Smartphone Market of 200 Million+

With this number of Smartphone users already out there and the numbers growing every day, this technology is getting ready to go through the roof. Macy’s in their Flagship New York store  is actively testing it and many of the major chain stores are planning to roll it out around the holiday season.

This could change how people plan and do their shopping. Advertising of specials can be updated in real time and offers can be changed based on the length of time a customer is on premises.  Apple uses it to greet customers as they enter an Apple store. Demographics and shopping habits can be collected by observing movement in certain areas of the store and adjustments of product stocking levels can be changed more rapidly on a day-to-day basis depending on the public’s perceived interest.

Good for the consumer too

iBeacons allow the customer to set up to shop in DIY mode. Using them could allow a customer to locate specialty items by just waking by a store and querying the iBeacons to see if a certain product is available and how much it costs.

There are many possibilities for the disabled as they can easily find the items they are looking for in a store and as an aid in navigating to the item. Doors could also be programmed to open for those with disabilities and specialized ramps or directional signs could trigger at their approach so they can enter and exit a facility with greater ease than ever before.

For the time conscious and efficient shopper, a plan could be mapped out to get exactly the items on the shopping list in the quickest and most efficient manner possible.  Navigating from item to item, this would be similar to the scavenger hunts held all over the country using GPS tracking units. This method would also be of huge benefit for those on fixed incomes, as they would to be able to quickly locate items, which are in the budgetary guidelines they programmed into their iPhone.

iBeacons could be used for customer vetting for prepayment as they enter the store or as incentives for returning shoppers that automatically updates on each of their visits.  This could also key advertising to an individual based on historical shopping purchases.

iBeacon technology could potentially replace debit and credit cards and become a way to pay for a purchase. Even casinos could find similar uses for iBeacons in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

Corporations could use them to help navigate a person to a certain office in a giant corporation, the Pentagon as a case in point where employees get lost on a regular basis. The park service could use the iBeacons in various ways such as guides through the park or provide information to their patrons.  Museums would be ideal for iBeacons giving information about various exhibits and attractions. Don’t forget the uses for zoos and nature parks where iBeacon could be used to guide patrons to sights of interest and change as events occur around the park.

The possibilities for Theme parks like Disney World in Orlando hold countless applications for iBeacon, from guidance to rides for the handicapped to special deals on attractions and even discount coupons for rides and hotel accommodations.

A more benign use would be if you are at the mall facing the 100 or so restaurants and you are only looking for a quick bite. iBeacons would make meal selection and checking for the special of the day a snap.

Customer Engagement

Using iBeacons is like releasing a thousand tiny sales representatives into your store that never get tired, ask for a pay raise, or get sick for that matter. Their message is always cheerful and upbeat.

The messages can be changed daily or even hourly, as needed as conditions change on product supply and customer demand wanes in one area it could be sparked in another by simply sending out different broadcasts.

You can see iBeacon technology is just beginning to get its legs under it. Soon it will walk and then the sky’s the limit to as what its application possibilities are.

Fast-Food restaurants will use it to compete for customers in the malls. Cars will sell themselves to you. Appliances will tell you about themselves. Vast amounts information on people’s buying habits will be collected and used to tailor product to fit your every conceivable want and need. All this is being made possible by a simple chip in your iPhone and a little blue odd shaped object called an iBeacon that attaches anywhere and in any quantity you desire.