Apple’s iBeacons are creating new opportunities for businesses, particularly for retail stores. The iBeacon is an Apple device that uses GPS and Low-frequency Bluetooth connections to provide location-based information to smartphones and tablets. It holds a great promise for businesses by offering a more personalized approach to retail shopping. Also, it attempts to bridge the gap between online and offline shopping. The iPhone app serves as an ideal link connecting the physical store to the digital world of smartphones and tablets in a compelling and cost-effective way. iBeacons are a dream for marketers Imagine your customers walking by your location and without even going through the door getting a notification of a bargain. Powerful! Your retail outlet, for example, can inform shoppers with iPhones of:- ongoing sales, announce new promotions, inform them of special offers unique to your location, announce price cuts and bring in customers that may not have planned on stopping into your location. Your app will be able to also know if a shopper is a new or returning customer and customize the messages they receive. It’s a win-win situation for not only you and your retail outlet but your customers as well. With iBeacon retailers can engage a relevant audience directly on their iPhones and further build relationships and brand loyalty. #1. Precise Location Context Take advantage of Apple beacon technology to enhance delivery of mobile content to customers and prospects at specific indoor locations. It is more engaging than conventional in-store approaches, more effective than indoor Wi-Fi advertising and more precise than GPS marketing. #2. Proximity Marketing Platform Mobile apps can be designed specifically for retailers by mobile application developers to leverage the power of proximity marketing platforms. Retailers can use iBeacons to engage consumers as they shop for products and services about special discounts, store specific content of interest, videos or perhaps to highlight specialty items available. An Apple iBeacon enabled application might be able to access the local weekly ad for a specific store location or remind a customer that he or she should use their loyalty card to get loyalty points when they make their purchase. They are also capable of sending push messages to smartphones with loyalty offers, vouchers and other incentives. #3. A Tool to Reach a Larger Audience The iBeacon allows brands and retailers to reach millions of customers while they shop at different locations throughout the world. Advertising has never been more powerful. #4. Advertising Products at the Point of Sale It is the dream of many retailers to link advertising to the time of a purchase decision. iBeacon enabled promotions not only let retailers deliver coupons and incentives while a consumer shops at a local store, but they also let them send enticing messages, which can have a tremendous positive impact at the point of decision making. #5. Analyze the Movement of Consumers Not only can businesses connect with consumers, but they can also capture more accurate data which has always been a challenge for businesses. You can analyze how many potential customers are there nearby and then alter your marketing techniques to pull them in and once they are in the door your customers will even be able to pay you through the same iBeacon platform. #6. iBeacons Take Businesses to Your Customers and Prospects There are places where consumers go that lack strong signal. iBeacons offer a great way to reach consumers in these areas because they have been designed to work in these areas. Mobile beacons are fairly inexpensive, do not need to be plugged in and will last for an extended period of time. They also offer a great way to compare online consumer behavior and offline consumer behavior. This way, the retailers will be able to understand how offline and digital world can work together to improve customer experience. Bluetooth capabilities must be enabled and the user must have an app already downloaded for the technology to be effective, so you will need your customers to choose to download your app and opt in. Retailers are recommended to encourage current loyal customers to download the app and opt-in to the program. #7. Don’t overdo the ads You want to be careful that you don’t overburden your customers with ads. It is important that you have a strategy for your iBeacon program where you are able to deliver information that is timely, relevant and not spam. Otherwise you run the risk of your customers not only opting out of your program but also being turned off. #8. Privacy and data collection Regarding privacy, we should note that the phones are the devices that do the listening. The beacons sound out a signal that the iPhone receives. As part of your iBeacon strategy remember to collect data from in-store beacons. You can utilize this data to improve your customers’ shopping experiences. iBeacons can tell you when a customer walks into your store and can track their movement through the store. This data can be used to improve your marketing program and even retail displays that aren’t as effective as they could be. #9. The future of retail with iBeacon Eventually we will see iBeacon and Android based beacon systems form an end-to-end retail experience. You will be able to make offers as customers walk into the store, provide information regarding key products in certain parts of the store, and then wrap things up by taking mobile payments as your customers are ready to leave. In fact with the introduction of iOS 8 Apple users will be able to see location-aware application recommendations from their iPhone and be able to quickly install them to access features from nearby businesses. Retailers that make the most of mobile beacons are going to be able to take their businesses to the next level. iBeacon will allow them to engage with their customers in ways you might have never imagined, potential customers will be treated with a new level of service through their mobile devices that they will certainly appreciate and come to demand. You will want to make sure that you offer this level of convenience to your customers before your competition does. The brand that integrates location-based mobile experiences into a mainstream shopping experience will certainly enjoy an advantage. This technology will bring a great deal of positive press to the company that takes advantage of being an early adopter. Images: Patently Apple _____________________________________________________________________________________ Tweak Your Biz is a thought leader global publication and online business community. 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