Blog Post:It’s no secret that marketers are struggling to implement an effective omni-channel approach with their customers. It’s not just the increasing number of digital touch points between brands and customers making it difficult for marketers to keep a single view of the customer, but it’s also a challenge to align customer’s digital interactions with their physical presence in stores. An emerging technology, called proximity beacons, can help marketers get a full view of the customers by connecting the digital and physical worlds. Beacons are small and cheap devices that can be powered for years by a single coin cell battery. They can interact wirelessly (using a wireless technology such as Bluetooth® Smart, which is sometimes called Bluetooth Low Energy) with mobile devices by showing notification messages and making apps aware of their proximity to the mobile user. The buzz around beacons comes from recent news by Apple that announced the iBeacon products and introduced support in iOS7, and Google following up by adding Bluetooth Smart support with Android 4.3, although a few companies like Estimote or Kontakt had already started to make and sell their Bluetooth beacons. The combination of beacons, smartphones and mobile apps is potentially very powerful for marketers. After all, 95% of commerce still occurs in the store* and 79% of shoppers who own a smartphone use their phones while in a physical store**. beacon The most promising opportunity that beacons offer to marketers is to bridge the gap between digital and physical channels, which is the main challenge to establishing an omni-channel marketing strategy. By tying digital information to physical places, marketers can finally obtain a single view of the customer between online and offline, and offer an excellent buying experience along the entire customer journey and across all possible interaction means (digital and physical). In retail stores beacons can turn a mobile app into a virtual personal shopping assistant that welcomes the customer at the front door and offer help with recommendations, detailed and up to date information on products in the nearby, couponing and discounts targeted to their preferences and buying profile, up to dynamic pricing and even payments without queuing, as PayPal has recently announced.customer-journey Some big retailers have started to experiment with beacons. Walking into Macy’s stores in New York or San Francisco customers automatically get notifications on their iPhones from a shopping app which can make specialized offers depending on where they are in the store. Apple has also installed iBeacons in all its own retail stores in the US to drive marketing campaigns through the Apple Store app. Think of the opportunity to push contextual information to customers while they’re shopping and to connect proximity data to a single client profile as if they were shopping online. This let brands offer a unique customer experience by pushing highly targeted and valuable contents to a visitor, influencing behaviors and decisions, increasing conversion and reducing the risk of showrooming. shopping-experience And this is just the beginning as the possibilities offered by beacon-enhanced retail locations are endless and they will influence brands to rethink and redesign customer journeys. But not just for big retailers: a beacon costs between 30 and 75 € and it’s all it takes to get analytics from shopping preferences, make product recommendations and offer discounts to customers even in a small shop. And in a few years they will become significantly cheaper as their popularity grows. There is still much to explore and we’ll cover more details, experiences and use cases for other industries. Stay tuned as big new opportunities for digital marketers are just behind the corner, or better… they’re already inside the store! * Q4-2013 data according to US Census Bureau. Similar figures apply to Europe. ** According to “Mobile in-store research”, Google, April 2013 ♦ Images courtesy of Estimote Inc. Author: Date Created:29 January 2014 Date Published: Headline:Combining the digital and the physical to create a superior in-store shopping experience Social Counts: Keywords: Publisher:Adobe Image:http://blogs.adobe.com/digitaleurope/files/2014/01/Adobe_Blog-Header-images_1640x920_31.jpg

It’s no secret that mar­keters are strug­gling to imple­ment an effec­tive omni-channel approach with their cus­tomers. It’s not just the increas­ing num­ber of dig­i­tal touch points between brands and cus­tomers mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for mar­keters to keep a sin­gle view of the cus­tomer, but it’s also a chal­lenge to align customer’s dig­i­tal inter­ac­tions with their phys­i­cal pres­ence in stores.

An emerg­ing tech­nol­ogy, called prox­im­ity bea­cons, can help mar­keters get a full view of the cus­tomers by con­nect­ing the dig­i­tal and phys­i­cal worlds. Bea­cons are small and cheap devices that can be pow­ered for years by a sin­gle coin cell bat­tery. They can inter­act wire­lessly (using a wire­less tech­nol­ogy such as Blue­tooth® Smart, which is some­times called Blue­tooth Low Energy) with mobile devices by show­ing noti­fi­ca­tion mes­sages and mak­ing apps aware of their prox­im­ity to the mobile user. The buzz around bea­cons comes from recent news by Apple that announced the iBea­con prod­ucts and intro­duced sup­port in iOS7, and Google fol­low­ing up by adding Blue­tooth Smart sup­port with Android 4.3, although a few com­pa­nies like Esti­mote or Kon­takt had already started to make and sell their Blue­tooth bea­cons. The com­bi­na­tion of bea­cons, smart­phones and mobile apps is poten­tially very pow­er­ful for mar­keters. After all, 95% of com­merce still occurs in the store* and 79% of shop­pers who own a smart­phone use their phones while in a phys­i­cal store**.

beacon

The most promis­ing oppor­tu­nity that bea­cons offer to mar­keters is to bridge the gap between dig­i­tal and phys­i­cal chan­nels, which is the main chal­lenge to estab­lish­ing an omni-channel mar­ket­ing strat­egy. By tying dig­i­tal infor­ma­tion to phys­i­cal places, mar­keters can finally obtain a sin­gle view of the cus­tomer between online and offline, and offer an excel­lent buy­ing expe­ri­ence along the entire cus­tomer jour­ney and across all pos­si­ble inter­ac­tion means (dig­i­tal and physical).

In retail stores bea­cons can turn a mobile app into a vir­tual per­sonal shop­ping assis­tant that wel­comes the cus­tomer at the front door and offer help with rec­om­men­da­tions, detailed and up to date infor­ma­tion on prod­ucts in the nearby, coupon­ing and dis­counts tar­geted to their pref­er­ences and buy­ing pro­file, up to dynamic pric­ing and even pay­ments with­out queu­ing, as Pay­Pal has recently announced.customer-journey

Some big retail­ers have started to exper­i­ment with bea­cons. Walk­ing into Macy’s stores in New York or San Fran­cisco cus­tomers auto­mat­i­cally get noti­fi­ca­tions on their iPhones from a shop­ping app which can make spe­cial­ized offers depend­ing on where they are in the store. Apple has also installed iBea­cons in all its own retail stores in the US to drive mar­ket­ing cam­paigns through the Apple Store app.

Think of the oppor­tu­nity to push con­tex­tual infor­ma­tion to cus­tomers while they’re shop­ping and to con­nect prox­im­ity data to a sin­gle client pro­file as if they were shop­ping online. This let brands offer a unique cus­tomer expe­ri­ence by push­ing highly tar­geted and valu­able con­tents to a vis­i­tor, influ­enc­ing behav­iors and deci­sions, increas­ing con­ver­sion and reduc­ing the risk of showrooming.

shopping-experience

And this is just the begin­ning as the pos­si­bil­i­ties offered by beacon-enhanced retail loca­tions are end­less and they will influ­ence brands to rethink and redesign cus­tomer jour­neys. But not just for big retail­ers: a bea­con costs between 30 and 75 € and it’s all it takes to get ana­lyt­ics from shop­ping pref­er­ences, make prod­uct rec­om­men­da­tions and offer dis­counts to cus­tomers even in a small shop. And in a few years they will become sig­nif­i­cantly cheaper as their pop­u­lar­ity grows.

There is still much to explore and we’ll cover more details, expe­ri­ences and use cases for other indus­tries. Stay tuned as big new oppor­tu­ni­ties for dig­i­tal mar­keters are just behind the cor­ner, or bet­ter… they’re already inside the store!

* Q4-2013 data accord­ing to US Cen­sus Bureau. Sim­i­lar fig­ures apply to Europe.

** Accord­ing to “Mobile in-store research”, Google, April 2013

♦ Images cour­tesy of Esti­mote Inc.