Report: Beacons Making Sizable Impact on Retail

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As proximity technology grows, so too the demand from more companies — both big and small — for aggregated information. By getting to know the customer, retailers can bridge the offline and online experience and provide a more personalized shopping setting.

Getting data to work for retail points to the competitive advantage brick-and-mortar businesses contend with in order to compete with ecommerce.

Unacast’s Proximity.Directory Q1 2017 Report, released today, shows that 75% of retailers in the U.S. are integrating proximity technologies into their marketing mix to increase operating profit. In fact, by using beacon technology, retailers can improve their position and increase operating profit by nearly 9% with an ROI of 175%, according to the report.

Retailers are using technology in many clever ways, Thomas Walle, CEO and co-founder of Unacast, told Street Fight.

“We are seeing the beginning of how data is used to make things more personalized and more engaging” for the consumer, Walle says. “Retailers have to compete with Amazon.”

Rebranded from Proxbook in Q4 2016, Proximity.Directory (which is provided by Unacast) is the world’s largest directory of proximity companies that is moving beyond a technology-specific focus and working with location analytics, location data and a deterministic user and location story. This is the second time the report has focused on retail.

As physical retailers struggle to compete with ecommerce, more companies are retargeting, with more effort on attribution and proximity data. Both Google’s Eddystone and Apple’s ibeacon are credited for the growth of the proximity marketing campaigns, 56% of the industry compared to 87%, respectively.

Retailers can deploy sensors, communicate with precise physical locations and use analytics to understand customers.

Still, retailers ask the question, how can we support our existing data and maximize ROI?

“There is no doubt that beacons were hyped initially. They thought it would be this huge amazing thing and everyone would adopt it, [it would] be everything,” Walle says, adding, “that never happens with technology.”

But the technology has high-profile early adopters: Walmart, Macy’s, Best Buy and Target; Rite-Aid has 4,500 beacons deployed. They tested the technology, improved it and, according to the report, now there’s a new wave of retailers on board that have increased ROI.

Proximity marketing serves small-to-medium businesses and can increase operating profit by 8% with an ROI of 365%, according to the report. Retailers want to know how to use technology to support something that they’re already doing to improve the existing business.

Walle points out Mondelez International’s Turnstyle’s cloud-based Wi-Fi marketing platform, which targeted millennials and found unique ways to reach them with products (of the chocolate variety et al.) after they opted in for future communications. 

With more than 3,244 customers who opted in, the brand showed an 81% increase in sign-ins over the prior 30-day period and 14% of customers who received a coupon redeemed it.

Retailers are finding ways to bring people back into stores to make the shopping experience more personal, engaging and efficient.

“Coupons are huge,” Walle says. In the proximity space, retailers will know who is in their stores, how often they visit and if they are receptive to advertisements on Facebook, for instance. “This is a great example of how data has been used.”

Click here to see the Proximity in Marketing Retail Report.

Nancy Ayala is a Street Fight contributor.