You won’t find an iBeacon in an egg but you will certainly find it in a giant Easter egg…if you’re in New York City that is, further explanation provided later on. So what exactly is iBeacon? iBeacon is hardware that emits low energy Bluetooth signals which allows push notifications to be sent to mobile applications. At present there are already more than 200 million devices that can emit low energy Bluetooth signals, in the form of phones in our pockets. Since iOS 5 iPhone have been able to emit and register Bluetooth signals.
iBeacons will be revolutionary for many industries but especially for brick & mortar retailers. iBeacons are akin to retailers enveloping the store with a ‘digital window’ where shopper owners can provide mobile engagement with their app users by bringing relevant and valuable content directly to their devices while in store. iBeacons have the capacity to capture customer data from the app user, which third party systems like XtremePush can analyse to create users profiles for mobile engagement. Then push notifications can be used to communicate with the consumer through their App on their device offering a personalised, in-store experience.
User profiles can include the customers purchase history, favourites, product options, traffic patterns, and now, when they were last in store. Provided the consumer has the app they will be no longer be anonymous to the retailer. iBeacons have the intelligence to identify unique individuals who visit a store and therefore can determine with accuracy the effectiveness of their digital marketing campaigns. Unlike an online search, in store notifications transmitted through the iBeacon can provide the consumer with instant gratification.
Tesco is currently testing out the iBeacon in its Chelmsford store. Their iBeacon’s are being used to send iOS push notifications to shoppers about picking up pre-ordered goods when they arrive in store. Coca cola is planning to test the iBeacon in the license trade (bars) where very often it can be hard to see what soft drinks are available as people can’t see over the bar.
In essence Beacons are not trying to dig into the consumers ‘digital wallet’, they are simply enabling rich experiences beyond offers with the possibility of providing a deeper level of engagement; imagine you’re in Zara, you pick up an item of clothing and voila your dressing room awaits (Yes it automatically unlocked itself). Afterwards your local cafe welcomes you to your favourite cafe mocha as you enter their premises. On the way out if you happen to be in New York City, you stumble upon a fundraising Easter egg hunt with Faberge who have iBeacons installed in 275 large eggs sculptures scattered across the city, you download the App and eagerly await for you mobile phone to detect a Faberge Easter Egg .
The future is bright for iBeacon, push notifications and mobile engagement.