Next time you are checking out the latest styles in the store, or finding your seat at the ballgame, you might hear a new ring coming from your pocket. Companies are discovering the new technology of beacons, and how they can be used to interact with the customer. Beacons are inexpensive ($10-$50 per device), low-energy Bluetooth transmitters that can relay messages or prompts to a customer based on their in-store location, using the beacon like an electronic tripwire. These beacons are small enough to attach under the counter or on the wall without being invasive. However, there are some drawbacks and barriers. Users have to turn on their Bluetooth, allow location services for the app, and opt-in to receive notifications. And on the other side of beacon usage, privacy and security are the two main factors that will require extra attention in order to be sustainable.
Apple’s own iBeacon can be used with the nearly 200 million iOS7 devices and is already being integrated into the Miami Dolphins’ Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins tested 22 different iBeacons in the final two games of the 2013 season and were able to not only notify fans of which concession lines were shortest in their section, but also send coupons for snacks or drinks. The NFL set up dozens of iBeacons around Times Square and MetLife Stadium for the Super Bowl this year, giving fans a map of the area and directing them to NFL merchandise and exhibits. Other companies, such as ShopKick, who are in beta testing with their ShopBeacon at Macy’s in Times Square, are quickly finding new uses for the technology beyond notifications. Future capabilities could soon allow customers to be able to pay for an item on their phone or tablet, enabling them to bypass checkout lines, or quickly receive personalized customer service based on previous interaction and preferences. This flexibility and personalization will benefit new brands engaging in event marketing by giving relevant information to ambassadors, who can more efficiently interact with the audience. This technology will also be able to notify consumers about what is going on, where it is happening, and why it is taking place. Breaking down personalized notifications by demographics will lead to higher efficiency, lower costs, and greater involvement.
Event marketing will now be more effective than ever before!
Written by Kurt Schieszer, Intern, Spring 2014