Some recent headlines have suggested that consumers hate iBeacon, or more dramatically “In-Store Tracking.” OpinionLab released a recent survey of 1,042 consumers, which noted 77% find in-store tracking unacceptable. The responses may not be surprising given retailers recent security lapses with personal shopper data and the growing displeasure among Internet users with how advertisers track them online.
Furthermore, the earliest customer experiences with iBeacon were disappointing rather than revolutionary. That could be expected. After all, the first experiences with GPS applications weren’t revolutionary either. The first experiences with iBeacon and indoor location technology have been as mapping and information utilities, without the personalized offers and in-store engagement that customers are looking for. Especially the 18-34 demographic that many retailers are trying to reach.
So how can retailers convert shoppers to iBeacon and indoor location advocates, while leveraging what is forecasted to become a $10B a year marketing technology? Here are three ways.
1) A/B testing offers and branding that resonates: With iBeacon and indoor location technology,The A/B type tests and click-through rate analysis that has made eCommerce so efficient can now be applied to brick and mortar retail. Measuring conversion rates and click-throughs on mobile offers will enable retailers to send marketing materials via mobile that consumers are most interested in. For instance a big box retailer could have one store running a mobile offer and one not running the mobile offer to measure if it’s providing sales lift. Alternatively, both stores could be running offers – say for a specific cereal – but with a different discount or different brand messages to gauge what consumers are really most interested in receiving.
2) Leveraging data to make store floors more customer-friendly: In addition, retailers utilizing iBeacon and indoor location platforms to distribute this mobile content should be looking at how the messaging is affecting key customer metrics like time-spent in-store. For instance, a retailer could find an indoor location-based marketing campaign for summer t-shirts is converting exceptionally well. Not only could they increase the allotment of square feet for the summer t-shirts, but they could move the t-shirt display to the front of the store for easy customer access and assign a sales associate to assist shoppers in the area. When customers begin to understand that the technology is improving their experience in-store (rather than just another advertising channel), they’re more likely to embrace it.
3) Personalizing and customizing marketing for return customers: Retailers can automate the identification of repeat customers when they visit the store using indoor location and iBeacon. This allows them to track how the mobile messages are affecting their visits and average spend per visit. In addition, it allows the retailer to roll out the red carpet to its most valuable customers (40% of retail revenue in the U.S. comes from repeat purchasers). This could be of special importance to wholesale clubs such as Sam’s Club and Costco who have lucrative business member accounts made up by small to medium sized businesses. Using indoor location and indoor positioning technology, Costco for instance, could automate identification when one of these members enters a store. Staff could then bring their goods upfront (if the business member pre-purchased their order online) and drastically cut down on waiting time. This extra attention can go a long way when it comes to decreasing premier membership churn and re-upping business memberships.
To find out how to convert your retail shoppers to iBeacon and indoor location advocates contact ByteLight today.
As we’ve touched on before “fluidware” is the real force behind the breakout of the Internet of Things. The seamless integration of hardware and software is changing the way we create connected hardware and how consumers interact with it. The lighting industry is one area where hardware and software are becoming increasingly intertwined as lighting’s value capture moves away from components and towards data - like the computer industry before it. We’ve seen examples of this in just the last few weeks with Samsung introducing a Bluetooth enabled lightbulb.
But software and the Internet will have far reaching implications on the future of lighting (beyond just control), and lighting will also impact the future of the Internet in many ways. Connected lighting is really a Trojan horse for the Internet of Things, given they’re already installed in almost every building in the world (where we spend 90% of our time). As they’re retrofitted with LED lightbulbs, they’re setting up a viable new data channel.
One market that’s certainly relatable to where the lighting industry finds itself today is the quantified self and health sensor movement. That brings us to Quantified Summit (#QSummit), which took place in Boston today at District Hall. Put together by Silicon Valley Bank and Terrible Labs the event drew leaders in the health data and sensor markets. One panel of particular interest was the Hardware vs. Software panel that included Ben Einstein of Bolt.io, Jason Jacobs of Runkeeper, Sanjay Gupta of MC10, Charles Teague of Lose It and Ben Waber of Sociometrics. Here are some lessons from discussions on their panel that can be applied to those innovating with fluidware in the lighting market.
1) Let’s take the Technology we have in Place today and Open it up / Bring it Mainstream:
Jason Jacobs of RunKeeper and some of the other panelists were adamant that the focus today should be on bringing the current software / hardware we have in place and bringing it mass market. For instance, instead of focusing on another new sensor to measure health data, you should be focused on really commercializing what accelerometers can do today. This can be applied to the lighting industry when you look at the vast opportunities to commercialize smart lighting. Instead of looking at futuristic uses for lighting, and connecting with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth networks, can we find ways to commercialize data smart lights are already transmitting through the natural flicker of LED’s? In order to do that we need to open up the lighting industry. Traditionally, lighting has been built on closed, proprietary systems. That model works when your apps are limited to a few sets of use cases, like lighting control. But when there are endless-numbers of possible apps – which is where the industry is going – open standards/APIs prevail.
2)The Software is More Valuable than the Hardware: On a panel that presented itself on hardware vs. software, the question of which is more valuable was sure to come up. When Ben Einstein of Bolt.io asked, he got a mixed bag of responses. Some of the folks on the panel were quick to point out that while we love to sing the praises of great hardware, a lot of what we’re praising is the UI of the hardware we’re accessing on. Sensors are built into that hardware that we forget about. That said, Jacobs noted that he’d probably short the values on some hardware makers if they don’t really become software companies and Charles Teague of Lose It! was the most vocal in stating that software is far more valuable than hardware. It’s no different in the lighting market. The entire lighting industry’s value capture is moving downstream – away from hardware and into services and data, as software eats the industry. Lighting manufacturers need to move quickly to change interfaces and embrace open standards, if they don’t want to be left behind.
3) It’s More Harry Potter Stairs Than Star Trek
Ben Waber of Sociometrics had a great quote on the future of the quantified movement, saying, “It’s more Harry Potter’s stairs than star trek.” The point being, while we may not have the visual spaceships, the magic is really happening behind the scenes in connecting things. That’s one area that the lighting industry can really focus on. Changing light colors and dimness with a mobile application is a cool visual but the real magic should be happening behind the scenes in terms of data capture and light field communication. As lighting becomes more about the software, it also becomes a visual communication medium.
As interest in the use of iBeacon really takes off with retailers, it’s a good chance to look at why retail beacons and indoor location are key to making omnichannel retail strategies work. It’s something that many retailers need assistance with. In fact, Accenture and and SAP just released a report that retailers are struggling to keep up with demand for omnichannel offerings from consumers. Nearly 40 percent of retailers “are having difficulty” integrating back-office technology across all of their channels. One key solution for integrating these channels could be beacons and indoor location technology. Here’s Why:
1) It Brings the Mobile Channel In-store & Vice-versa: Shoppers expect a seamless and consistent retailer / brand experience throughout the buying process. This should integrate brick and mortar, online and mobile into one store they can shop at wherever they are and whenever they want. The line between these channels begins to fade as shoppers utilize more than one channel during a buying experience. By Implementing indoor location in-store, retailers can make the transition from shopping on mobile to shopping in-store absolutely seamless (given 84% of shoppers are using their smartphone in-store).
When a retailer uses indoor location technology a shopper is able to pick-up in-store exactly where they left off window shopping on their mobile device - with updates on the merchandise, offers on it or directions to it within the store. Furthermore, when a shopper leaves a physical store that transition to the mobile and online shopping experience is also seamless. Offers on products they may have tried on or spent time at in-aisle can be personalized the next time they visit an eCommerce or mobile commerce site, or even with email marketing.
Every retailer knows it’s more efficient to serve repeat customers than to heavily promote to lure new ones. Repeat customers are more likely to buy new and long-tail merchandise, not only merchandize on sale. This means higher profits.
It’s big business. Up to 41% of retail revenue in the U.S. comes from repeat purchasers, who represent only 8% of all visitors. So how can retailers engage repeat visitors to maximize their spend in-store? Beacons and Indoor Location are emerging as a top solution.
In ABI Research’s latest report on beacons and indoor positioning systems entitled “Indoor Location Technologies,” senior analyst Patrick Connolly predicts infrastructure-based technologies like light field communication and Beacons will break 20,000 retail implementations by 2015. In addition, he predicts 800 million smartphones will be actively using indoor location for applications in venues by 2018.
Indoor location beacons and positioning systems are the hardware sensors designed to wirelessly communicate and transmit data with mobile devices (and other beacons) within a certain area or network. And with the aforementioned momentum behind them, retailers are finally getting a chance to create one-to-one customer relationships with shoppers.