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How iBeacon will change in-store marketing

Author: James Murray
Close up of cell phone screen image in front of mannequin with superimposed image icon of iBeacon

How iBeacon will change in-store marketing

Personalized messaging for the connected consumer

iBeacon, the new technology released with Apple iOS 7 last September, opens up a whole new dimension for in-store shoppers.

The iBeacons are small wireless sensors which transmits data to a shopper’s phone as they pass them, utilizing Bluetooth low energy (BLE) technology. What this means is that retailers have a new way of connecting with their consumers, by sending relevant, personalized messages to connected devices while in-store.

In December, Apple rolled out its iBeacon technology in all of its 254 U.S. stores, allowing them to send notifications to shoppers’ phones based on their in-store location. The push notification-like messages can, for example, prompt shoppers to read product reviews, or scan a product’s barcode to pay for it instantly via the app.

Just last week, the iBeacon expanded to 100 American Eagle retail stores, exemplifying the product’s growth and future potential. When the product is placed across all 100 stores next month, initially shoppers will only receive a notification at the door. The long term view; however, is to have beacons placed all around the store, telling customers about deals on clothes that they’re near.

There are a lot of similarities between iBeacon and near field communication (NFC) technology which Google has been utilizing via Google Wallet. Both technologies send short-distance signals and have been used in retail environments; however, there are a few distinctive iBeacon advantages, including:

Distance

iBeacon can transmit signals up to 50 meters while NFC is limited to a maximum of 20 centimeters

Universality

Bluetooth low energy technology is widely standardized for use on both Android and iOS operating systems, while Apple do not support NFC technology

Power

Bluetooth low energy sensors drain battery at a much lower rate than NFC sensors.


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