How The Retail Industry Bet on Beacons, and Won

May 4, 2017

The retail industry is always at the top of the queue for the latest tech: for the most part, the shopping experience has remained rigid for decades, and every new technology is a potential means to change the status quo and begin the revamp of retail.

No wonder than that retail was of one of the industries to readily embrace beacons. Apple introduced the iBeacon technology (also known as iBeacon standard) in 2013; a year later, America’s biggest and oldest retail companies have already implemented it in their stores, placing beacons across most of the departments.

Apart from leveraging the much-needed mobile, the reasons are rock-solid. Beacons bring the long-awaited change to the shopping experience without overwhelming some the shoppers, like VR and AR do. Set up within an indoor positioning system, they provide indoor and outdoor navigation and help create contextual experiences. Most importantly, they are incredibly cost-effective for businesses. These and other reasons prompted the world’s biggest companies to embrace the beacon technology within one year from its release, and reap substantial benefits over a short period of time.

Beacons In Retail — Hillshire Brands

In 2014, Hillshire Brands faced a complex challenge: the food retail giant, whose annual sales amount to $4 billion, needed to launch its new link sausages in the most competitive US regions and on a limited budget.

Beacons were the answer. Having installed the devices, Hillshire Brands started a three-month mobile campaign. It targeted the customers who downloaded the custom mobile apps from the platform Hillshire used in the deployment, which at the time enlisted 50 million users. Then, the company sent branded push-notifications to these apps when shoppers entered the stores with beacons installed in them. In addition, the campaign included banner ads within the app that linked to a full-page ad with a coupon and other content.

App solutions and software platforms used

Hillshire Brands used a popular beacon platform that integrates a wide number of apps, including Condé Nast’s Epicurious, Gannett-owned Key Ring, Zip List, and other custom mobile applications.

Results of implementing beacons

A year hasn’t passed since the release of iBeacon technology, but the after-campaign survey showed that beacons are a major force in retail: location-based offers lifted purchase intent and brand awareness of Hillshire’s clients by 20% and 36% respectively; 6000 engagements were gauged during the first two days of the campaign, an impressive number comparing to the other beacon deployment data of InMarket. A successful endeavor to improve shopping experience with beacons, it was also the first by a brand in the history of retail.

Beacons In Retail — Hudson’s Bay Company

Companies whose history spans decades sometimes embrace new technologies slower than others — or don’t embrace at all. Hudson’s Bay, one of the world’s biggest and oldest retailers, wasn’t one of them. In 2014, only a year after the iBeacon standard release, they have become the first major company in the retail industry to carry out a full-fledged beacon deployment in North America. The beacons were installed in 90 Hudson’s Bay stores in Canada, and 50 Lord & Taylor locations in the US. As shoppers walked through the store aisles or just past the stores, the beacon-based indoor navigation system sent messages and offers to an iPhone app from seven separate beacon-triggered in-store advertising campaigns.

App solutions and software platforms used

In order to surprise their shoppers and leave out the frustration of downloading an app in-store, Hudson’s Bay Company used third-party software in their indoor positioning system — the SnipSnap coupon app. The application ran on an advertising platform that allows for beacon technology. Additionally, the company integrated three more apps that had a cumulative 50 million downloads in the whole at the time.

Results of implementing beacons

The deployment of beacon technology and adjacent mobile app solutions lead to a 50 percent engagement rate boost after the initial push-notification, while click-to-claim has risen by over 20 percent. Here is the bottom line for beacons from the chief marketing officer of Hudson’s Bay and Lord & Taylor:

Beacon technology is the future of retail marketing and […] will assist us to make every visit to Hudson’s Bay or Lord & Taylor even more rewarding for our customers.”

Michael Crotty, CMO of Hudson’s Bay and Lord & Taylor

Beacons in Retail — Tesco

The third largest retailer in the world, Tesco had decided to turn their cart to app development and beacons pairing. Tesco strengthened its presence on Asian markets by placing beacons in all of its Tesco Lotus stores in Thailand, as well as developing an individual custom mobile application for them. When in store and having downloaded the app, the shoppers will stay notified on Tesco’s special promotions, coupons, and discounts  (they also can be found in corresponding app sections). On top of that, the app serves as a club card, sends tips, includes an online store and online locator.

App solutions and software platform

Pursuing a deeply personal approach, Tesco chose custom mobile app development over third party mobile apps made with third-party mobile frameworks — a more expensive, but also more effective and reliable solution.

Results of implementing beacons

The paired power of beacons and a retailer app increased the sales and repeat purchases and delivered a solid personalized mobile experience.

In future posts, we will continue exploring beacons use cases across industries.

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