Beacons are currently being hotly debated. The principle of the technique is simple: beacons allow merchants to address customers directly via Bluetooth, as soon as they enter a shop, the range of these devices is currently at about 30 meters.
Beacons are commonly found where there is stationary trade, thereby seeking to assert itself against the giant of online trading. So, when a customer enters a store that has Bluetooth turned on and the app is installed, it is possible to communicate directly with them and inform them of special offers, advertising, new products etc.
Ultimately, messages are sent to the customer without being explicitly asked. The danger quickly becomes clear: spam, as we know it from our email inbox, is shifted to the customer’s smartphone. The challenge that merchants face is not to come across as “spammy”, but instead use selective and personalised promotions and offers.
Nevertheless, the concept, if used properly, offers added value for the customer and can be an opportunity for trade at the same time: the dealer now has the ability to communicate locally and actively with the customer and not only via the internet or social media.
The majority of purchase decisions are made at point of sale. During this phase, the customer receives their purchase decision, selective and transaction-specific information directly to their smartphone, the percentage of additional purchases could be increased significantly. Not only retailers can benefit from Beacons, the potential is there for museums, pharmacies and trade shows, given that their visitors have bluetooth-enabled smartphones and have downloaded the relevant business’ app.
Conclusion: The use of beacons requires great sensitivity on the part of a merchant’s website development with regard to mobile devices. They also run the risk of overloading the customer with information which could have an adverse effect on their overall retail experience. Customer Value is only created through individuality. The customer doesn’t want to feel harassed, instead they should be inspired.
At the present time there is no indication that Beacons are an innovation that will have massive influence on purchasing behaviour. Nevertheless, there is potential for the concept, mainly because the retail trade is changing and trying to become more personalised in order to promote loyalty among the customers and the brand.
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