In short, iBeacons (or just Beacons), a technology still early enough in the adoption phase to require some definition, enable mobile devices to listen and react to “signals” from beacons installed in the real world. Beacons rely on low energy bluetooth signals (BLE) transmitted from small pieces of hardware.
Why is this iBeacon technology so exciting?
More and more start-ups as well as established industry giants are recognizing the potential of the technology and are using it to provide their customers with tailored and meaningful experiences.
For example, in 2013, Major League Baseball installed iBeacons in 28 ballparks across the US to enhance the game day experience for fans. When they entered the stadium, the app would allow them to “check-in” automatically, and then offer them turn by turn directions to their seat. It also offered stats on their favourite players, and fed them special promotions from nearby vendors.
It also opens up huge opportunities for creating more memorable events. SXSW used it to great success in Austin in 2014. When visitors entered the general vicinity of the registration area the app would detect their location and offer the option to skip the lines and register on their devices using a quick code. Proximity beacons were also used to welcome attendees to sessions and invite them to participate in a discussion group. Also, as GPS doesn’t work especially well indoors, beacon technology offers a good alternative for recognizing specific locations and geofenced areas.
And imagine the experience at a museum. As you stand in front of a large immersive piece of art, studying the colours and textures, your device notices that you haven’t moved from the spot in over 3 minutes and automatically feeds you detailed information about what you’re looking at. In addition it tells you that there’s some other works by the same artist just around the corner to the left.
Retailers are getting in on the action.
Retailers have begun to envision the possibilities as well. You can now detect when a customer enters your store, who they are and what they’ve purchased before. With the app and iBeacon you can send them offers and incentives that are relevant to them. Frank & Oak has started to use iBeacons to load a complete profile of their consumer when they walk through the doors, and envisions a time where a sales representative could be empowered to view that profile, and then show the customer products specifically matching their preferences.
Think of features that will improve your customer’s life, freeing them up to better enjoy their moments, not clutter it with noise.
Remember what you’re here for.
The implications of how iBeacons can transform the customer experience are thrilling. The key to truly utilizing beacons to improve the customer journey is to remember that the goal has be customer aligned, genuinely helping them, not spamming them with annoying ads or messages. So think of features that will improve their life, freeing them up to better enjoy their moments, not clutter it with noise.
Apple is investing heavily into the technology, and it is very tightly integrated into iOS’s version 7 or later. Beacons are also fully Android compatible.