Retailers are just starting to scratch the surface with the relation between in-store sales and location technology. Many retailers expect location-based technologies to reap fruitful profits by driving customer footfall traffic in-stores. But generally, it doesn’t live up to their expectations.  So how can retailers drive footfall traffic back into stores and make loads of revenue with location technology?

Let’s start with beacons. A beacon is a device that uses radio waves to send out an alert of its presence. This alert, like that of a lighthouse, occurs at a predictable interval and can be detected within a finite proximity. [Therefore, a beacon signal detects the enabled app and then the engagement gets triggered to the users’ smartphone even if the app is closed.]

They’ve already made significant headway with certain brands. Retailers like Macy’s, Target, American Eagle, Virgin Atlantic airlines as well as Major League Baseball stadiums (MLB) all have used beacons for different location-based campaigns. Location-based marketing is exploding as Business Intelligence claims, “beacons will drive $44 billion in retail sales this year, up from $4 billion in 2015.”


This is a beacon

Additionally, ”8% of US retail locations were equipped with beacon technology in 2014, was expected growth to 32% in 2015, and 85% in 2016.” Simply put, beacons are not going away anytime soon. Brands who’ve tried to capitalize on this small, wireless device can’t rely on them solely for growing sales. Rather, brands need a technology that combines a special type of technology and beacons. That technology needs to drive engagements between the brand and the user, with a beacon in place, even if the user is offline and not using his/her mobile device.

The engagement between the user and the beacon has to happen in the right place, the right time and right context of the situation. Google calls these situations, “micro-moments” and that is the exact moment your user thinks, “I want to go,” “I want to see,” “I need this,” “I want to buy.”  You (as a brand) need to “be there” and be ready for those key moments when users need you most.

Despite targeting users during those micro-moments, there’s a key technology that marketers are still missing from their toolset. In order to reap the full benefits of a location-based marketing campaign, a marketer must have the right mobile engagement platform. The right platform drives the engagement between the user and brand with the beacons in place. In the long run, brands must also build and at the same time, nurture their mobile communities.

Specifically, the platform should enable the app to be identified by the beacon signal. The beacon’s range should be relatively small where the user physically walks by. After the marketer configures the beacons, he or she must arrange a triggered automation.  An automation must trigger relevant, personalized and contextual customer engagement.

Next, how well the marketer uses the consumer data is equally important. Looking at the data, a marketer must evaluate the types of mobile assets which performed well. Also, he or she needs to set up mobile workflows with a solid mobile engagement strategy in mind. After launching a mobile journey, analyze the aftermath of the journey through a mobile analytics portal. How to analyze the results? Think about how users were receptive to buying, if they were converted into customers or if they returned to your store, site, app, etc.

Here are 4 ideas that’ll boost sales + drive footfall with beacons:

1. Greet customers with personalized welcome messages

Place a beacon in front of the entrance and set an automated greeting message to that user when he or she walks into your store. At the same time, deploy the 2nd beacon to monitor when the user leaves the store. Then automate a farewell message. For example, at the cash register send your user, “Thanks for stopping by and purchasing our latest. See you later Kate!”

Now let’s take a look at the beacon map. The blue arrow represents the entrance beacon, while the red represents the beacon by the cashier where customers exit. Automate a personalized welcome message once a user walks in the store. Say something like, “Hi Anna, welcome back to Lily’s Boutique!” As an option, place two beacons in the same place, configured differently to differentiate entry/exit point. Each beacon has its own tracking code, so the configuration should be set in the mobile app engagement platform to differentiate the beacons.

Idea: For an exit beacon, automate a customer satisfaction survey saying something like, “Thanks for stopping by John. Did you find everything you need? We’d love to hear your feedback…”



Image source- Mobilebridge

2. Guide users to certain product(s), customer service desk, bathroom.

As an alternative to just greeting the customer, take a step further by asking the user upfront where he or she needs to go. Ask them in an in-app rich image message if they need to see the customer service desk, bathroom, cleaning supplies aisle, running sneakers section – The sky’s the limit! Or give them an option to type locations in a search box. Or provide them an in-store map. Therefore, users see where the products or certain shelves are.

3. Offer the right product information, at the right time & the exact location

Referring to the beacon manager picture above, see the pink arrow leading to the beacon on top of a certain shelf? In a hypothetical situation, let’s say this is a floor plan of a grocery store. This beacon is placed in the spices and soup aisle. The grocer sets up a campaign about soups. The user wants to make a sweet potato soup. So if the user stands in front of the spice shelf, it’s possible that they’re looking for a missing ingredient, veggie flavored bouillon cubes.

Images-Categories-02app retention

Then arrange the automation of the bouillon cubes promotion. For example, a coupon offering them a buy one, get 2nd one-half off. The trick is to catch the user in the right moment.

In theory catch them in the exact location with the right context. If their app is on, BlueTooth enabled, and they thumbs up yes to the sweet potato soup, send a friendly reminder about the promotion. Again, trigger the promotion the moment the user stands near the ingredient in the spice shelf.

4. Enrich the store experience with branded content

Let’s start off with the Macy’s example. Macy’s had one of the largest beacon deployments in 2014. Macy’s had more than 4,000 beacons placed throughout different malls. However, Macy’s had no control over their branded content. They hired a 3rd party to develop and create the mobile assets like in-app coupons, rewards and discount offers. The problem is that Macy’s did not reinforce their own branding which confused users.

With an advanced mobile engagement platform, the marketing team could have easily uploaded Macy’s branded content and avoided a 3rd party. This ensures that customers are comfortable. Customers will be assured that what they clicked and interacted with is Macy’s content. It also emphasizes Macy’s brand consistency and therefore, drives customer loyalty and app retention.

Assets have their place and time. For example, sending a push message to inform the customer that their delivery is ready for pick up. However, sometimes it’s better to show rather than tell. For example, tell through a written push message and show via in-app image. There are a plethora of ways to engage users with assets like coupons, vouchers, surveys, polls, push messages, 3D product models, videos, loyalty points, games, and so forth. The key is to ensure that these assets are all easily branded.

Recap: Overall, there are plenty of ways to drive in-store sales revenue with beacon technology. The list goes on! Informing users about low inventory levels. Enabling easy mobile payments through beacon touch points. Analyzing dwell time data (how long a user stands/walks in a beacon zone). Tracking how many actual persons are active in a beacon zone, etc. The important takeaway is that you must possess the right mobile engagement platform. Then set up your beacons for success!

If you’d like to find out more creative ways for retailers to drive revenue with beacons, I encourage you to download our guide:

Download our guide “How Retailers Can Capitalize the Mobile Market”



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