The Next Retail Mobile Trend Is Here – Apple iBeacons
Publication date: 01.14.2014
Imagine shopping at your favorite retailer and receiving a notification while you are in the store that men’s sweaters are on sale. Or, you’ve placed an order in advance from your favorite restaurant and, as you walk in the door, the counter person immediately calls your name and hands you your meal.
These scenarios are made possible thanks to Apple’s new iBeacon technology that unlocks location-specific “ByPlace” service models for nearby iOS devices like iPhones and iPads.
According to Forbes Magazine, the micro-location feature in iBeacon is the most important new feature in iOS7 and Blue Rocket can’t agree more. Even though consumer awareness of iBeacon’s “ByPlace” service is low right now, it’s estimated to be potentially available on almost 200 million iOS devices that have Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) already built in.
This new class of low-powered, low-cost transmitters can notify both nearby iOS 7 and Android 4.3 and later devices of its presence. And on December 6, 2013, Apple switched on iBeacons at its 254 US. retail stores.
Real World Examples of iBeacon Technology
Apple and our engineers at Blue Rocket believe iBeacon can engage mobile users in a wide variety of ways. Here are just a few:
- Sports stadiums – Sports fans, who are already somewhat fanatic, can really dig into real-time game stats, fantasy league updates, special merchandise offers, and more through iBeacon technology and micro-location awareness.
- Museums and exhibits – Can provide more timely information than an audio tour with iBeacons in each room or near specific items.
- Conferences and events – Enhance attendees’ experiences with maps, schedules and session information in real-time.
- Restaurants and bars – Offer faster service and virtual menus with food/wine pairings, as well as hourly discounted deals.
- Hotels and resorts – Use as a virtual concierge for information or for check-in or check-out.
- Colleges and universities – Beam visitors and family members maps, cafeteria info, and class information.
- Venues can select suitable content – Cinemas can offer free online film magazines, airlines can provide business magazines, salons can let you read beauty magazines, and fitness centers can enable links to sports magazines.
- Measure results – As the number of venues using this technology grows, this will generate income when customers buy products or services from retailers or venues.
What Does This Mean to Mobile Marketers?
Today, Apple uses their iBeacon technology in all of their 254 retail locations. There are also dozens of grocery stores in three major cities across the US that are testing the iBeacon technology to target customers in the aisle with location specific content, such as coupons and special promotions. With over 200 million users coming online in 2014, marketers need to partner with their mobile teams to strategize on how to best integrate this new and emerging technology to enhance their brand experience and grow their business.