Posted: 2 May 2017
Although the brick-and-mortar retail sector hasn’t evolved as radically as online retailing, new technologies promise to bring about significant transformation in the years to come.
Whether we refer to artificial intelligence, augmented reality, omni-channel data integration, chatbots, or POS interactive displays, new technologies are already at work in ways that even the most tech-savvy shoppers might not realise.
However, the good news isn’t necessarily that all these mind-blowing sci-fi technologies exist, but the fact that retailers can combine them in new, quite surprising ways in order to meet and even exceed the changing demands of customers.
In this post, I’m going to talk about an impressive yet relatively inexpensive and easy-to-deploy breakthrough that’s increasingly adopted by brick-and-mortar stores: beacon technology.
What’s so cool about beacons? When synchronised with the right devices, such as Raspberry PI, beacons enable retailers to effectively harness the true power of point of sale advertising.
Now, to understand the reasons behind the noteworthy and somehow unexpected proliferation of the proximity beacon technology across the retail industry, let’s take a closer look at how beacons can help retailers and brands improve the overall customer experience and boost sales.
Using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology, beacons can interact with different apps and detectors, such as mini-computers, tablets, or smartphones. Depending on the actions desired, a beacon-based system can be used to provide customers with relevant information as they move around a store.
Consider a customer who walks into your store for the first time. He or she wants to purchase a certain product, but not before checking its features, quality, and price along with the full range of product substitutes. After comparing the features of several similar products, the customer gets confused, frustrated and leaves without buying anything.
Despite what you may think, the problem isn’t the multitude of product choices you make available, but rather the lack of relevant information the customer might have needed in order to make the purchase.
Fortunately, this scenario may become a thing of the past very soon. And that’s thanks to the smart customer-centric POS solutions integrated with beacon technology. Some POS interactive displays, for instance, can detect when a customer takes action, such as picking up a product, and automatically provide contextual information about it (e.g. colours, sizes, customer ratings and special offers), and even indicate the most relevant alternatives in case that a certain size or colour is not available.
Considering the example above, POS interactive display solutions deliver an ingenious way to reinvent your win-win-win strategy. On one hand, the retailer and brand get the sale. On the other hand, the customer leaves happy, with a product he or she really likes. In the long term, this will translate into more satisfied and loyal customers, higher inventory turnover ratios, and last, but not least, more sales.
Beacon technology can be integrated into different systems, including POS displays. Using this technology, brands and retailers can track what customers are looking at. Then, based on the information collected, they can make in-store shopping more relevant.
For instance, they can change messages on POS interactive displays or provide special offers, product suggestions, and on-the-spot discounts to customers as they enter, proceed through or linger in a specific store aisle.
Whilst it’s up to customers to react to, engage with, or use the information they receive or are able to access in-store, beacon technology allows brick-and-mortar stores to enjoy the same personalisation and targeting advantages as online retailers.
What’s more, facilitating an entertaining aisle-by-aisle shopping experience, beacon-based systems can help stimulate impulse buying, with a positive impact on in-store sales and bottom lines.
The fact that product and service customisation can help retailers boost sales isn’t a secret. However, many retailers still fail to deliver the types of products and services their customers want.
Beacon technology can change that. Currently, increasing numbers of digital pioneers in the retail sector are using beacons in conjunction with POS displays not only to add more relevant context to their in-store systems but also to deliver highly geo-targeted messages, based on where their customers are located in the store, at a given time.
As an example, a brand or retailer can offer relevant information—and a more valuable shopping experience, implicitly—by providing push notifications with recommendations for baby products when a customer is in the baby section.
By leveraging contextual and proximity awareness, brands and retailers could come up with new ways to effectively engage with increasingly distracted customers, whilst pleasantly surprising them with more customised products and services. This will inevitably lead to higher conversion rates and more sales.
Many brands and retailers may think that beacon technology is a passing fad. My advice? They should think again before making a final decision.
Most brands and retailers already have apps for smartphones. But without beacon technology, a mobile app is just a software solution, similar to a mobile website. And as we all know, a customer is going to download an app only if he or she believes that it provides some sort of utility.
From a retailer's point of view, "utility" means all the new technologies that can be added to a retail environment in order to offer customers a truly personalised, hassle-free, and meaningful shopping experience. The brands and retailers that adopt these technologies will gain a tremendous advantage over their competitors, as long as they get it right.
According to retail industry experts, beacon technology paired with different apps and devices like POS interactive displays won’t only provide contextual, useful and valuable information to customers; it’s also set to completely revolutionise the in-store shopping experience.
Industry watchers have already predicted that beacons will become better known and accepted as more brands use them. Over the past two years, many big-box stores have undertaken large-scale beacon deployments, with excellent results.
As an example, Swirl—a pioneer of Bluetooth technology-guided beacons—confirms that 73 percent of customers are more likely to complete a purchase when they receive beacon-triggered offers. Also, Unacast and ABI Research have recently predicted that 400 million beacons will be deployed by 2020.
At DisplayMode, we also tap into new digital technologies as they’re developed, combining them in unique ways to boost POS performance and breathe new life into brick-and-mortar stores. Not only do our digital POS displays allow retailers to increase their agility, relevance, value, and attractiveness to shoppers; they also strive to help retailers and brands delight customers with highly personalised shopping experiences and, thus, increase customer engagement, loyalty, and sales.
To find out more about how our retail display solutions can help you take your store from ordinary to extraordinary, please get in touch with our friendly team by calling +44 (0) 1536 460805.