Retailers with brick and mortar locations are starting to look at Internet of Things technology as a way to ramp up sales and build loyalty with customers. BI Intelligence reported last fall that beacons would help retailers propel $44 billion in sales by 2016, way up from $4 billion in 2015. But where to start deploying beacons withing the parameters of retail use.
Let’s look at beacon technology for the retailer aiming to strengthen customer retention and improve store layout and product selection. With proper planning and guidance from the solution provider, beacons can address and satisfy objectives, including retaining customers, improving loyalty and making ordering from the manufacturer more efficient.
Beacons are battery-powered Bluetooth devices that broadcast an identifier. They transmit unique signals multiple times per second. The beacons search for customer devices — such as smartphones — that are within a certain established perimeter with which to communicate. For the entire strategy to work, customers must have downloaded the retailer's app, which is tuned to receive the broadcast from the retailer’s beacon. A mobile engagement platform is layered on top of that retail app, which then pings the cloud to determine what content it should deliver to a customer within its perimeter. And the customers always have the choice to opt-in, or out, of receiving information.
A good place for solution providers to start is to look at a list of beacon manufacturers, which includes vendors such as Kontakt, Tod, Accent Systems (pictured) and others. Find the vendor that has a solution best suited to meeting your clients' goals, offers you support and is financially stable. Then:
- Test Your Deployment Plan. In the case of multiple stores, roll out beacons in one store and learn from the experience. In a one-store location, try it out in a single department at first, if practical. The retailer will make discoveries about what actually works and apply those lessons when expanding the deployment. For example, the client may find that frequency of offers is too great, irritating shoppers -- or that the information they are receiving is irrelevant.
- Train the Associates. Work with the retailer to train the salespeople on the solution. Everyone in the store shold know how to use the information the beacons provide to increase purchases. For example, beacons will alert salespeople when customers using the store’s app enter. An associate should know how to access that customer’s shopping profile to tailor suggestions appropriately. In addition, all employees should be familiar with the store’s app.
- Think Outside the Box. Encourage your retailer to use the beacon technology as a communications platform that goes beyond product pushing. The platform can surely inform about new products and special offers or events. But it can also provide services, such as informing when an out-of-stock item is in or when an order is ready for pick up.
Solution providers are the first stop on a retailer’s journey into the IoT. Help your retail customers by being prepared to offer and implement beacon solutions that will better position them in the race to outsmart the competition.