Indoor beacons are bridging the gap between physical locations and digital experiences, and allowing developers and businesses to interact with consumers based on their proximity to specific locations. But as with any new technology, indoor beacons do have their limitations and marketers need to be strategic in order to get the best use out of these hyperlocal tools.
To leverage in-store beacons in the most effective ways, marketers should follow some basic best practices. Here are seven strategies from experts in the field.
1. Add multiple beacons and triangulation to improve accuracy. “If someone was looking to increase indoor location accuracy, a low-cost and flexible solution would be to use multiple beacons and triangulation. The more beacons that are used, the more accurate the positioning. Whether that is the right solution for each client depends on the purpose for the accuracy. If it is used for more precise wayfinding, the client may not need as many touch points as if they were trying to detect the specific location of a product, for instance. There are many advantages that beacon technology has over GPS and WiFi, but it depends on the ‘purpose.’ If a museum was trying to bring relevancy to ‘points of interest’ using one beacon at each location and using the frequency strength would make a lot more sense than building out a multi-beacon solution using triangulation.” (Preston Reed, Footmarks)
2. Focus on the message, not the precision. “With micro-location, it is not always a matter of a precise position, but more about relevant message and interaction. Whatever technology we are using, we still need to deliver value, not only for a business’ internal purposes, but most importantly to the final customers. I’d recommend focusing on the relevant, valuable message that is being sent, rather than on precision itself. When a micro-location solution is applied well, you will not need accuracy below two meters in most cases. Of course, with Kontakt Beacons you can go way below that. But, is accuracy really what is important?” (Szymon Niemczura, Kontakt)
3. Avoid interrupting shoppers unnecessarily. “Push notifications should be utilized when there is a compelling value to the user. We are the only company in the world with experience deploying beacons in multiple retailers and in grocery stores. Since a consumer visits their grocery store seven times per month on average, we have significant operational data about best practices. We have found that consumers really appreciate helpful, relevant and timely ‘concierge’ reminders when they are in store. For example, reminding a shopper of a recent recipe or a shopping list not to be forgotten. Consumers do not want multiple interruptions while in-store and prefer marketing that has value-add to the shopping experience.” (Todd Dipaola, inMarket)
4. Give employees access to their own tools. “There are lots of ways that retailers can use data collected from WiFi and BLE beacons to not just improve service and performance at a specific site, but also to better capitalize on the multichannel habits of today’s shoppers. For example, we’ve talked with a company called CloudTags that’s helping retailers arm their employees with tablets and smartphones that serve as ‘roving kiosks.’ This allows employees to bring up additional product details that can help people make a decision about what to buy, either while they are in the store or later online. Employee can also use the device to collect information and keep the connection going through email even after the visitor has left the premises.” (Christina Ellwood, Brickstream)
5. Make use of the data collected through loyalty programs. “Retailers posses enormous data about their shoppers from loyalty cards and purchase histories. What retailers painfully lack is the ability to communicate with shoppers when it matters most. Retailers have shown great sophistication using that data online, however there has been no effort to connect and optimize a digital experience to the shopper as they are in store. Offline spending is still over 90% of where dollars are spent. [InMarket’s] Mobile to Mortar platforms allows retailers to customize experiences and offers in-store. Retailers can get more advanced analytics about consumers when it matters most and measurably drive incremental purchases.” (Todd Dipaola, inMarket)
6. Use data to fill information gaps. “Location data fills information gaps and answers the questions that retailers have been asking for decades. Every retailer wants to better understand what’s going on in their stores and how to better optimize their in-store operations. Providing x,y coordinates, a video stream, or person-by-person heat maps doesn’t provide a lot of decision-making value to retailers. However, when you pair Euclid’s data with other contextual data — like transaction data, door counter data, or weather—and begin auto-identifying trends, our customers can do powerful things, like predicting sales and understanding what factors to impact labor scheduling. The value is in being more precise around what should drive decision-making.” (Adam Wilson, Euclid)
7. Reach the Holy Grail by tapping multiple data sources. “It’s important to remember that data collected from in-store beacons is only giving you a snapshot of connected shoppers, and then only the subset of those shoppers who have opted in. So, while useful because of the unique ways it can be used to look at what’s happening in the store, location data is much more powerful when combined with other more comprehensive sets of in-store data such as people counts, queue wait times, data on service times, and more. The Holy Grail for retailers is being able to tap into multiple sources and types of data to better serve customers and improve store performance.” (Christina Ellwood, Brickstream)
Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.