How Proximity Marketing Is Bringing Mobile and Brick-and-Mortar Retail Together



Brought to you by WBR Insights


There are many ways retailers are using mobile technology to augment the brick-and-mortar shopping experience for their customers. People love their smartphones and are constantly glued to them.


From mobile-based click-and-collect ordering systems to app-based rewards programs, mobile technology can offer much to the physical retail world. Mobile-based retail purchases are predicted to hit 53.9 percent of all ecommerce purchases by 2021.


One of the most exciting new technological developments in omnichannel retail is proximity marketing - made possible by beacon technology.


Proximity Marketing


As the name suggests, proximity marketing refers to any promotional strategy which requires the intended target to be within a certain distance to activate it.


Beacon technology has been around for a while now. It's not unusual for technology such as this to go through peaks and troughs as it finds its feet, but it seems 2019 is set to be the year beacons really take off.


"The fact is, beacon technology needed time to mature and there were a number of integration issues that had to be addressed before it could be widely adopted," reports Vertical Leap. "Google decided to take the initiative in 2015 with its own development platform aimed at solving these problems, and a lot of progress has been made over the past few years. Now, beacons look like they're ready to start living up to some of the hype. This means proximity marketing will be a priority for a lot of brands in 2019."


Beacon technology refers to devices which use Bluetooth low energy (BLE) transmitters to send notifications to nearby mobile devices. These messages can cover a range of purposes across many industries and can be changed to suit individuals, locations, or brands. Those worried about the security of their smartphones needn't be, as the beacons can only send messages if the target has a specific app installed and has previously agreed to receive them.


BLE beacons have been put to work in the hospitality industry, at tourist attractions, and of course, in retail locations.



#1 Promotions


One of the most obvious applications for beacon technology is to make customers aware of special offers. When a customer approaches a product which has a promotion running on it, the beacon built into the shelf can send a notification and inform the customer that they could save money if they buy two - or whatever the offer happens to be.


However, the opportunity for beacon-based promotional messaging goes deeper than that. Imagine if a customer leaves your store without making a purchase. The beacon technology could detect them walking out the door and check with the app-based reward system to see if a purchase has been made.


If the beacon confirms no purchase has been made, it could send a special offer to the customer's smartphone to entice them back into the store.


#2 Gamification


Another way beacon technology can be used to create amazing experiences is by adding an element of play to the brick and mortar shopping experiences.


Gamification refers to the process of using mechanics from video games to add a reward system to an unrelated experience. It could be a leaderboard built into a company training program or an achievement system which unlocks special badges when certain goals are met.


Beacons can allow retailers to create games such as treasure hunts to run special in-store competitions. As customers follow clues, the beacons activate and send the next clue as each location is found. Prizes such as discount vouchers can then be given out to help drive further sales.


#3 Data Gathering


Data is one of the most powerful tools available to marketers. Beacons can help gather data by tracking customer movements and recording their activity.


Retailers can find out how customers move around their store, how long they loiter in certain areas, and which products they pass by without so much of a pause. The resultant data can then be cross-referenced with purchase information to give retailers real insight into the relationship between the layout of the store and buying behavior.


Final Thoughts


Beacon technology is looking like it's finally ready to start making waves in the retail industry, creating amazing omnichannel experiences for customers and driving new data-based insights for the retailers themselves.


"The thing is, you're not only limited to a single beacon," says Vertical Leap. "With a network of beacons set up within a single city, metro system, shopping center or a single store, it's possible to send highly-targeted messages to every person in the area as they move from one location to another."



Return to Blog