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Lessons from Companies Using iBeacon to Drive Customer Engagement

Bluetooth Low Energy - BeaconWe talked about the opportunities location-based technology presents in our recent article “Beacons: Reaching the Right Audience, at the Right time, with the Right Offer”. But, the more exciting part of location-based technology is how businesses are applying this in “the real world”.


AppleApple: Improving In-store Efficiency

Apple was one of the first to introduce iBeacon technology at its retail locations in November 2013. iBeacon devices are located on table tops within the stores and coordinate with the iOS Apple Store app. If visitors are set to receive push notifications through the app, they receive messages about relevant workshops and info about nearby products. The company is also testing features for visitors in line for the Genius Bar, presenting advertisements while they await their appointments, notifying them when their repair is ready, and even allowing for in-store purchase via the app.

Major League BaseballMLB: Enhancing the Ballpark Experience

To capitalize on the immersive, high-traffic and engaging experience sports arenas provide – 20 of the 30 Major League Baseball teams rolled out iBeacon technology during opening season this year. The San Francisco Giants have 19 beacons located at fan exit and entry points. Other stadiums, the Dodgers for instance, installed as many as 65 of the devices to connect with fans. Through the “At the Ballpark” mobile app, fans with Apple devices have access to stadium maps, concession information, notifications for seat upgrades and video clips. In an interview for Engadget, the Giants’ Chief Information Officer, Bill Schlough, stated that the technology is intended to enhance – not distract from – the ballpark experience.

offer-overlay_lowShopkick for Macy’s and American Eagle

Shopkick, the rewards based and game-like mobile shopping app partnered with Macy’s and American Eagle to launch its own hardware, shopBeacon. Macy’s, the first major retailer to use beacon technology (even before Apple), installed shopBeacon at New York and San Francisco locations. A visitor with the shopkick app will receive a welcome message when he/she enters a participating store. The app then guides them through the store by pushing promotions and personalized recommendations to a visitor’s phone while updating their Shopkick profile to add loyalty points for in-store engagement. Another cool feature that links the online-offline experience is the Shopkick app’s “like” feature, which allows users to bookmark products online and receive notifications once they are in a store that carries the item.

Similar to Macy’s use of the technology, American Eagle stores use Beacons to welcome customers, push promotions and discounts, and send recommendations based on the user’s personalized app preferences. The company plans to further implement the beacons for location-specific deals (a coupon for jeans if you’re near the jeans) intuitive to the product and section of the store customers are shopping within.

Alex and AniAlex and Ani: Improve in-store merchandising

Jewelry and fashion retailer, Alex and Ani started rolling out iBeacons across all 40 retail locations earlier this year. They use technology from Swirl Networks to better understand customer shopping behavior by running A/B tests and other analysis for store layouts, merchandise and displays.

Duane Reade - A Walgreens Family CompanyTargeted Content from Dollar General and Duane Reade

Beacons have also been used to attract nearby traffic and push branded content. Dollar General noticed favorable results on their campaign when they used iBeacon-based notifications to target nearby traffic, push discounts and provide a look-book featuring specialty items. Out of 60,000 devices targeted, 7,200 downloaded the software – a 12% engagement rate.

Walgreens-owned drugstore chain, Duane Reade added beacon capabilities to their app on May 7th and installed beacons in ten of its Manhattan stores. Duane Reade’s app pushes notifications that are intuitive to a customer’s past behavior by sending coupons based on previous purchases.

A variety of companies and organizations have started incorporating beacons into their communication efforts – but we’ve yet to see strong evidence for how customers are interacting with and reacting to this technology one way or the other.

We’re excited to announce that we are jumping on iBeacons as we near the launch of our pilot program to setup and enable iBeacons for a local martial arts studio to automate and track attendance, offer reminders and keep track of weekly visits among other things. We look forward to sharing our results in Q4 of this year.

Share your own iBeacon experiences and thoughts on whether the technology appeals to visitors. Comment below or chat with us on Facebook and Twitter.


2 Responses

  1. Great post! Having largely been touted as a ‘retail’ only opportunity, the scope of beacons is huge for verticals such as museums, hotels, stadiums, malls and events. One of the most significant benefits of using beacons is that they can help enhance customer engagement like no other technology has, in recent years. A good summary of how beacons can be used to enhance customer engagement.

  2. Really insightful post! The power of beacons lies in its ability to connect to the real world with the virtual world with a level of detailing that hasn’t existed before. The greatest advantage of this technology is that it sends location specific personalized messaged to the end consumer which will indirectly result in consumer loyalty as well.

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