Tuesday 12 May 2015

Revolutionizing the in-store customer experience with iBeacons

Personalized content, heat maps, analytics, conversion funnel… e-commerce has spawned lots of innovations. With iBeacons, "tags" are placed in a store to track customers. These techniques could soon be applied to traditional commerce.

According to a study by Markessen in 2014, one out of every two decision-makers cites customer experience as one of its key challenges between now and the end of 2016. Top priorities include managing crosschannel interactions, customer data, web analytics, and social interactions via CRM.



iBeacon: short-range geolocation

Introduced by Apple, iBeacon technology allows smartphones and other mobile media to be geolocated. These transmitters use Bluetooth technology to send out their ID, which is picked up by the devices – and thus consumers – nearby. Half of the hundred largest U.S. distributors had already experimented with them in 2014. Even Facebook is trying them with Place Tips, which is currently being tested in New York.



Improving the in-store customer experience

How does it work? After enabling Bluetooth on their device, consumers must be authenticated on the merchant's application (downloaded in advance) by means of a login and password. The mobile media then sends its geolocation via the application, which is connected to the brand's CRM solution.  If the customer account is connected to the customer's record in the CRM, the vendor can then access the customer's data online and offline in order to better anticipate the customer's expectations.
There are two goals: improve the customer's in-store experience and leverage the CRM data collected across all channels, including the website, social networks, and more. The idea is to push personalized, exclusive, and profile-targeted offers by email, text message, or notification. For example: "Just for you: 10% off all X-line products" or flash deals to motivate a purchase during the customer's visit: "Welcome Mr. X. Exclusively for you: a 30-minute flash sale. Get 15% off on product Y." Consumers can also access product information sent to their mobile device. 



Encouraging proactive sales

Once a beacon picks up the Bluetooth signal from a device and sends the appropriate customer information, the vendor is immediately notified via their computer, tablet, or smartphone. The vendor can also use the CRM to access information that will be useful for the sale: name and photo, online and offline purchase history, areas of interest, notes left by another vendor, interactions with customer service, and so on. 


He or she can also geolocate the customer in the store and engage more quickly, offering additional information or advice.


Leveraging data to optimize physical commerce

Just as a web analytics tool can optimize a website, a beacon system paired with an analytics solution lets marketing managers optimize a store in order to increase the conversion rate. It is possible to study how customers move through a store, the average time spent in each area, and more. This data can be crossreferenced with other CRM information – age, sex, etc. – to identify trends. The end goal is to rearrange the store to increase performance and customer satisfaction and to strategically drive repeat business.



Cross article for ICT Journal – april 2015