Contributed by Jonathan Mellinger, VP of Enterprise Partnerships at Goodway Group

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In my last blog post, I explained what beacons were, how they worked, and what types of businesses could use beacons. In this post, I’ll explore considerations that retailers should be mindful of as they develop their proximity marketing solution.

The app accesses the customer’s phone’s Bluetooth capabilities (presuming they have them enabled), which allows delivery of a message from the retailer. If we examine this process more closely, there’s really a lot going on:

  • First, we are using an app to trigger the engagement experience. But which app? It could be the retailer’s owned-and-operated (O&O) app, or it could be one of many third-party “lifestyle” apps that have partnered with the beacon provider as part of a “network”. Some beacon providers have partnered with an “anchor” app that has tens of millions of active users, like a popular coupon or shopping app. For simplicity’s sake, let’s presume we’re using the retailer’s O&O loyalty app. This presents an ideal use case, one in which the retailer has an engaged and active user base.
  • Retailers are obviously sensitive to their customers’ in-store experience. So it’s natural for retailers to ask, “How many of my customers are receptive to this type of messaging?” According to an eMarketer survey from August 2015 (Beacons for Retailers, Beyond the Hype), about 65% of consumers are willing to have stores access their Bluetooth to track them. Swirl, a beacon company, notes that about 60% of people have their Bluetooth permissions enabled. These two stats illustrate a meaningful portion of the population is both enabled and willing to engage with in-store messaging.
  • A recent study from eMarketer cites “in-store engagement” as being the top channel for customer engagement by retailers. This dovetails nicely to our final part of the process—communicating with customers. At Goodway, we are proponents of maximizing the value exchange between retailers and their customers. If retailers are going to access a person’s smartphone, then they must share high-value content with their customer. Beacons present an entirely new channel of communication with a customer. The rich engagement that is possible shouldn’t be squandered on coupons; rather, we should encourage clients to provide content relevant to their customers when they’re in the store. New product launches, specialty items, and co-marketing or promotions are great examples of content that can educate and enhance a customer’s in-store experience.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, proximity marketing is still a nascent market. Beacon vendors or solutions providers are still shoring up their product offerings. By addressing these considerations as part of a proximity marketing strategy, retailers will be able to winnow their vendor choices to ones with a platform that meets their needs and requirements.

Jonathan Mellinger

Jonathan Mellinger

 As one of the founders of EyeWonder, Jonathan has experienced firsthand the evolution of digital advertising from the nineties to the present day. In his Goodway role, he manages partner and vendor relationships, which affords him a birds-eye view of the digital media industry’s emerging technology and trends.