Retailer’s Guide to Beacon Technology


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With the power to drastically enhance the customer experience, beacon technology offers a lot of potential to retailers.

Whether it’s a simple welcome message, a coupon or a promotion on your mobile, retailers are increasingly trying to engage customers by enhancing the in-store experience by leveraging beacon technology.

According to Forbes, 59 percent of consumers carry a mobile device when shopping for groceries. This demonstrates the potential power of beacon technology to directly target shoppers on their mobiles to ultimately increase sales, retention and brand loyalty without the staff needing to do anything.

To help retailers navigate this important and burgeoning trend, here’s a guide that will cover the essentials of beacon technology and suggest some best practices that will prove useful as the phenomenon evolves over time.

Beacon usage today

At the moment, beacon technology has not caught on in a dramatic way and for many retailers, its use is still in an experimental phase. According to a recent report from eMarketer, there is no shortage of hype surrounding beacons, with major players such as Google, Twitter and Facebook investing heavily in the development of these tools.

Retailers are currently in the research and development stage when it comes to beacons, meaning that brands are treading lightly and looking for the best ways to leverage the technology, rather than diving headfirst into the trend. Of all the use cases on the table geo-targeting and location-based notifications are the most widely seen, according to research from Econsultancy. 

“The way we want to leverage this technology in physical stores is by adding the elements that you typically find while online shopping — personal recommendations, for instance — to an in-store experience,” Target rep Eddie Baeb said.

eMarketer found that telecom companies are leading the way in terms of adoption for these types of notifications, with 23 percent of companies having already implemented solutions. Only 18 percent of consumer goods brands have made the move, while a surprising 8 percent of retailers have done so. Consumer uncertainty is surely playing a role in low adoption at the moment, but as brands look to create personalized experiences leveraging beacon technology, rapid consumer adoption is not far behind.

Adoption on the rise

As of 2015, the value of sales derived from beacon technology was approximately $4 billion, while the 2016 prediction places this value at over $44 billion. This proves that beacon usage is set for a sharp increase, and that retailers are quickly gaining confidence in the capabilities of the solutions. This means that adoption rates are sure to rise, and retailers must work to develop strategies that set themselves apart in a positive light. 

According to a Business Insider article, “Since beacon-powered apps will collect valuable data on consumers’ in-store activity, they could result in highly personalized and targeted offers.”

eMarketer stated that one method in particular – native apps in conjunction with physical storefront ownership – will likely be the go-to strategy for many first-time beacon adopters in the retail arena.

Key trends taking root

While apps and storefront beacon usage is currently the status quo, there are a number of under-the-radar trends that are sure to take hold in a few short years. For instance, new devices such as wearables are opening up opportunities for new beacon connections, and retailers will create environments that interact with watches and wristbands to create even more personalized recommendations and promotions, according to eMarketer. 

“Anybody who has a Fitbit or an Apple iWatch now has Bluetooth turned on 100 percent of the time, all day every day- it opens new possibilities for beacons,” stated Greg Ratner, co-founder of Troops, as quoted by the eMarketer. 

Mobile wallets will also soon be connected to the Internet of Things that so many retailers are striving to create in their storefronts, allowing for smoother and more seamless checkout experiences. The possibilities are endless to incorporate loyalty programs and develop more targeted promotions and for shoppers that exhibit patterns in their browsing and buying behaviors. Also, beacon technology presents new ways for retailers to better understand the in-store experience with the ability to engage directly with customers for feedback while in-store.

What the future holds

While retailers may not have a clear path paved for them as far as beacon technology is concerned, it is certainly in their best interests to adopt these solutions as soon as possible and begin incorporating strategies that have proven effective thus far. 

“We are seeing more of our clients do pilots in certain regions on a smaller scale, where they can prove that a beacon technology or a certain coupon integrated into their stores work, and then they can roll it out further,” stated Michael Puffer, director of mobile solutions and strategy at agency HelloWorld, according to eMarketer. 

For now, retailers should focus on the basics of beacon technology, but they need to be prepared to adopt next-gen trends as they solidify over the next several years. 

Image source: Jonathan Nalder

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Duff Anderson
Duff Anderson is a visionary in digital Voice of the Customer research with over 20 years' experience. As SVP and Co-founder at iPerceptions, Duff is responsible for providing expert advice to organizations on how to gain a competitive advantage across the digital customer lifecycle and become more customer-centric.


  1. The new Beacon Technology combined with the new open GS1 DataBar barcode standard enables new real-time location-based grocery applications that offer relevant, environmentally friendly and personalized fresh food deals.
    The “End Grocery Waste” App is a perfect fit for the new Beacon Technology. This GS1 DataBar based App encourages efficient consumer shopping behavior that maximizes grocery retailer revenue, makes fresh food affordable for all families, and effectively reduces the global carbon footprint.

  2. Great post Duff, retailers can increase the reach by accessing a network of prime mobile app publishers, enabling them to maintain and engage with a growing amount of in-store shoppers. This allows retailers to better understand what makes these customers tick and can suitably and accordingly change their strategy to better reflect the choices of the customers. bfonics is one such provider of “smart beacons’ and now introduced “smart wifi solutions”. To know more:

  3. Timely article given the up coming holiday season! Another reason for slower adoption has been the design of current beacons themselves. Managing battery life and monitoring each beacon requires a significant investment. We’re working on a different approach at BeaconGrid. We’ve manufactured beacons in the form of power outlets. They’re secure and battery-free.

  4. Good read! Beacons are fast gaining popularity given the imminent benefits of geo-targeting and location based notifications. They are so popular today that beacon projects are not only limited to the retail sector; they are fast being deployed across diverse areas such as museums, airports and schools, among many others. With this growing adoption, best practices in executing beacon projects are fast emerging. One of the primary considerations in deploying a beacon strategy is to have a solid app strategy which ties in with the overall business and marketing strategy of a business. We have covered all the important aspects on building a solid beacon enabled app strategy in our blog –


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