6 Innovative Ways to Implement Beacons for Marketing

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Wifi_logo1Brick-and-mortar merchants know they need to step it up to compete against e-commerce retailers, and they know that proximity marketing with indoor positioning technology can be an effective mechanism for driving customer acquisition and retention. So why did a recent survey by Experian Data Quality show that geo-location is such a low priority for decision-makers, with only 20% of respondents listing geo-location as their “most important data priority”? It has to do with a lack of understanding.

While the term “beacon” has reached the mainstream, many local business owners still aren’t sure how to apply the technology in their own places of business. Even those merchants who know that proximity marketing could help drive sales still aren’t sure where to begin or what types of campaigns they can implement with beacons.

Here are six examples of innovative ways that businesses are implementing beacon technology right now.

1. Brands hosting interactive promotions. Swarm is working with a footwear brand to distribute 25 beacons to participating independent retailers next month. Shoppers won’t be told which retailers have beacons in-store, but the first shopper to receive a notification on his or her phone in each store will win a free pair of shoes. The promotion is intended to drive foot traffic to the local retailers that carry this footwear brand’s products.

2. Retailers automating customer check-ins. In a joint installation with Appconomy for the Chinese quick service retailer Yummie House, ByteLight was able to automate check-ins for Yummie House’s customers. Appconomy’s Jinjin is similar to Foursquare in China, and ByteLight was able to simplify the in-store check-in process. Using beacons, Yummie House was able to automatically remind customers to push a button on their mobile devices to check-in when they entered the store or when they were standing at the checkout. The beacon campaign increased in-store retail engagement by 30%.

3. Stores adjusting displays based on traffic patterns. Prism is working with a jewelry and lifestyle brand to help it understand what drives sales of certain merchandise. Using Prism’s heatmaps, the brand has identified that customers gravitate toward specific areas of its stores regardless of what merchandise is in those areas. As a result, the company has changed its merchandising strategy and started placing traditionally slower-moving products in the areas that generated the most traffic and sales.

4. Restaurants measuring the ROI of sponsorships. A national restaurant recently partnered with Nomi to measure how many new customers it acquired through its sponsorship of a music festival. Given that the festival was attended by more than 20,000 people, the sponsorship represented a significant investment for the restaurant. The company discovered that it acquired 1,300 new customers who had not visited any of its restaurants prior to the music festival. Four hundred of the 20,000 festival attendees were “dormant” customers who hadn’t visited any of the restaurant’s locations in the month prior, and 180 of those dormant customers were “re-energized” to come back after the festival. The restaurant plans on using these insights to inform its future marketing campaigns.

5. Retailers adjusting merchandizing strategies. A retail chain that Vizualize worked with had been placing products in exactly the same format along entrance tables in 3,000 stores. Using heat maps to show activity in those areas, along with a video summary that compressed a day’s worth of activity into a minute or two, Vizualize showed that employees were spending an average of 70 minutes per day refolding a single garment in a problem location—extrapolated to 3,000 stores, this represented a major waste for the retailer. As a result, the retailer felt compelled to adjust its merchandising strategy for the garment in question.

6. Real estate firms linking beacons with Google Glass. Real estate firms are finding that they can provide more information to clients by using Onyx Beacon’s beacon technology together with Google Glass. When a client wearing Google Glass gets close to an iBeacon, a range of information about available properties to buy or rent within a certain range (ideally, 1 to 2 km) appears on his or her display. Using Google Glass, clients can select which properties they’re interested in learning more about. Real estate agents can also host virtual tours of the properties their clients are interested in using Onyx Beacon’s beacons together with Google Glass.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.Rainbow over Montclair

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.