April 25, 2017

The Many Business Benefits of Beacons

Beacons

Beacons are small and barely noticeable, the technology behind them is simpler than other current-day tech, like Virtual and Augmented Reality. Still, these Wi-Fi router-resembling devices are as technically grounded as they are game-changing: beacons are poised to transform companies across many industries, bringing a wide range of benefits to improve the way they operate and the user experiences they offer.

Beacons Improve User Experience

One of the major advantages of beacons is that they improve the overall user experience at the front and back end of any business, streamlining operations and removing friction from day-to-day activities in a simple and smart way.

Beacons at the front end of business

At the front end, for example in a store, beacons become a part of an indoor positioning or outdoor positioning system (sometimes both), bringing contextual experiences to customers in the form of navigation tips and spot-on information (limited in-store offers, ads, notifications, etc.).  

Beacons at the back end of business

At the back end of business, beacons are just as effective. Since back end environments are usually big, beacon devices are installed throughout the area, forming an indoor positioning system. The application at this end is similar: providing context, indoor and outdoor navigation, as well as allowing for indoor tracking (a feature important for some companies).

Warehouses and other storage locations are the best example. Enterprise app solutions like enterprise applications will interact with beacons, and the employees’ mobile devices will serve as a pass that allows them to easily navigate between warehouse storage areas.

For instance, an employee needs a new laptop: they choose from a list of available devices and simply go to the warehouse, as beacons send signals to the app, providing access to the areas and navigation to the spot where the laptop is located. In a similar way, a construction worker will find the right equipment or material, and a delivery employee can check on items in a vast warehouse quicker and more conveniently.

Beacons Improve Marketing

Most modern technologies used in marketing today are complex, meaningful, and memorable — whether it is a VR dressing room or an AI-powered museum guide. Marketing teams put this tech at the centre of the customer experience while other incorporated tech developments play secondary parts. Beacons are usually perceived as the latter, but they can be a leading technology, too.

For example, Redbull used beacon stickers to monitor the movement of the audience members during an event at a music venue. The beacons gathered various data, and scientists created algorithms and deep neural nets to understand the guests’ movements and energy levels. The data was then used to create a colorful map which the guests could view on the walls of a separate room. On top of that, the information gathered by beacons was used to make personal souvenir. This is also an example of how beacon technology can be used without any app solutions.

Other, more common ways of how beacons improve marketing include:

  • A different way to send ads: Beacons will send pre-set marketing messages to a mobile app whenever a customer is near a beacon or a beacon-based indoor positioning system.
  • A different path to monetization: Business can opt out of mobile and other ads by simply delivering information about deals with beacons, or delivering a beacon-based experience (like the example above) to improve sales.
  • One more way to gather data: Beacons gather customer data that will help tailor a better, even more personal shopping experiences and provide additional insights into customers’ behaviour.
  • Better content management: IT technologies and software platforms (in the case of beacons — mobile application development frameworks) allow for convenient and fast content management similar to the well-built website CMS options.
  • New meaningful experiences for customers: There are different types of beacons, and video beacon is one of the latest: it is plugged into a TV to deliver video content when a customer approaches the set with their smartphone. Such experiences are fresh and valuable; they save time while imbuing the usual customer journey with brisk, memorable moments.

Beacons are a Dependable, Cost-effective Investment

An all-around look at beacons ultimately puts these devices into business priority lists. Beacons are cost-effective, easy to setup and manage, as well as incredibly adaptable:

  • Standard models are small and made of low cost materials like plastic, so they are more economically effective than other state-of-the-art technologies.
  • Most beacon devices are quick to deploy; some, like USB beacons, are as easy to install as a computer mouse.
  • Beacons are dependable devices: unlike GPS, they use Bluetooth, so thick walls or underground areas won’t block their signal. More so, some beacon suppliers offer beacons that are reinforced against exogenous factors: if a hotel wants a beacon in the swimming pool area or sauna, there are no roadblocks to installing it.
  • Most modern smartphones support beacon technology (iOS 7 or Android 4 or higher).

Concurrently, as beacon technology only works with mobile apps, some beacons come with mobile app development frameworks — tools that help a business single-handedly build an application to go along with the device; it comes with a software development kit (SDK) that also allows them to set up an indoor-positioning system. Still, if a company needs a custom mobile application, they can approach a software development company — every competitive company in software development industry is dealing with beacon technology.

If a company doesn’t want to overspend, there’s another option — using a third party application. For example, a retailer can use the mobile app of a mall where its store is situated to send beacon-based offers to the shoppers.

In the next posts, we will look at how companies in different industries use beacons.

If your business cannot afford to postpone a beacon solution any longer, do not hesitate and get in touch with us.