What is beacon tech and how is it going to revolutionise the shopping scene?

Juvy Garcia  |  Singapore
Published 2014-09-29 13:00:56

Unless I’m window shopping, I don’t fancy a shopping trip to the mall. I tire of walking to and fro from one shop to another before finally deciding on what item to pick.

Wouldn’t it be great if I already know what shops to check out or if my fave store has new arrivals? Wouldn’t it be great to know if a mall shop has a new promo or freebie? Wishful thinking.

Image Credit: Reuters
Image Credit: Reuters

Then again, maybe not.

Thanks to a partnership between Globe Telecom, mobile marketing agency Mobext and tech-based information marketing company In-Store Digital Display International (IDDI), this “wishful thinking” could actually come to pass.

Beacon Tech in the Philippines

Globe, Mobext and IDDI have partnered to bring beacon technology to the country. Beacons are small Bluetooth devices that send alerts to mobile phones as a potential buyer gets within its proximity.

Image Credit: Macy’s

“Beacons will truly revolutionize the retail industry,” claims Bela Gupta, Globe Digital Advertising Head.

How so? “By bridging the gap between digital marketing and actual in-store purchase,” explained Gupta.

In other words, for consumers, the use of beacon tech would mean no more irrelevant and cluttered advertisements. They’d get content and offers they actually want directly on their mobile phones. On the other end of the spectrum, for retailers, this would mean establishing a one-to-one relationship with a customer and getting permission to do so (because the consumer downloaded your app after all).

If you want to more about how beacons work, here’s an explanation (from a retailer’s point of view):

Arthur Policarpio, CEO of Mobext Philippines, shares that the partnership aims to build the “largest location-based marketing or ‘point-of-sales’ mobile marketing network” in the Philippines. Policarpio believes IDDI’s approximate 1,000 screens would be effective in entering major retail locations across the country. Add this to Globe’s millions of subscribers and Mobext’s mobile tech and strategy expertise and you pretty much have a dream partnership.

How Brands Use Beacon Tech

Beacons are commonly used to push notifications on promos and rewards. For example, local businesses at Honolulu, Hawaii, are tapping into beacon tech, reports HawaiiStar. Happy Hour Pal app helps people who are dining out to save money by alerting them of happy hour specials in their locality.

Image Credit: Macy's
Image Credit: Macy’s

Meanwhile, Macy’s, an American department store chain, did a test run of beacon tech last year in its New York and San Francisco branches. Now, ZDNet reports it expects installation of beacons in all its stores across the entire United States to be completed by early fall. This means more than 4,000 beacons would be operational just in time for the holiday shopping season. Aside from pushing reward and coupons, Macy’s was also able to monitor consumers’ purchases, which could prove useful in major business decisions like marketing.

Another effective use for beacon tech is to enhance in-store experience of customers as in the case of Apple. Mobext, which has an informative primer on beacon tech, sums Apple’s use of beacons here.

There are “endless possibilities” for the use of beacons, according to a provider. Here’s a video on what those possibilities look like:

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