If you want to stay competitive in the retail apparel industry, you have to embrace new retail technology—especially technology that syncs the mobile and in-store experience for your customers.
Some companies have been slow to introduce mobile-friendly technology into their stores for fear of hurting the retail experience. Many big box retailers have made the switch in 2015, however, because they’ve found that sophisticated mobile technology can lead to:
- Greater brand visibility
- Increased customer engagement
- More foot traffic and sales in brick and mortar.
One of the most advanced forms of mobile-friendly technology to hit the market in recent years is beacon technology.
All About Beacons
In an infographic published in September of 2014, Beaconstac.com claimed there would be over 30,000 active beacons in the U.S. at the end of 2014 due to the increase in smartphone use among retail shoppers. Current research also shows that more than 3.5 million beacon units would be installed by 2018, and more than 60 million iBeacon units would be shipped by the year 2019.
Though Beacon technology is still relatively new, its unique customization options combined with its ability to target consumers on mobile devices makes it an attractive option for retail companies looking to gain an advantage in the apparel market in years to come.
If you’ve thought about implementing mobile-friendly technology into any of your retail clothing stores, we encourage you to check out the following five things you need to know about Beacon technology.
#1: Send Targeted Ads to Customers Based on Location and History
Digital advertising on mobile devices has become common practice among top-tier retail companies over the years. And though traditional mobile advertising has its limits, Beacon technology allows any retail company to send targeted mobile ads to their customers based on historical data and product reviews. Along those same lines, beacon technology allows a company to send location-based promotions, coupons, and lock screen notifications when a customer is within a certain distance from a physical store location.
Naturally, being able to market to your customers in a more customized and aggressive way can result in more foot traffic to your retail stores, and consequently, more sales.
#2: Implement Mobile-Friendly In-Store Navigation and Product Guides
Sometimes walking into a store can be overwhelming for a consumer. You know their curiosity is peaked if they came into the store in the first place, but if they get confused by the layout or can’t find what they need quickly they might not hang around long. Fortunately, Beacon technology solves that problem for you in a matter of seconds.
Whether you want to provide your customers with a bird’s eye view of your store or an in-depth product guide that shows where they can find every item, Beacon technology can make it happen. Once you install Beacon technology, you can provide all of that information to customers when they check-in to your store on their mobile device.
Allowing a customer to check-in and receive an enhanced map and detailed product catalog gives them all the access they need to navigate the store. Implementing Beacon technology will improve customer opinion of the mobile and in-store experience and make it more likely they will return in the future.
#3: Manage Virtual Loyalty Reward Programs and Cashless Payment
A lot of retail apparel companies offer loyalty reward programs for their customers.
Instead of physical loyalty cards, Beacon technology allows you to provide customers with:
- Instant access to the balance of their loyalty rewards
- A variety of paperless coupons
- A scorecard that shows their history and savings in one snapshot
Not only can beacon technology provide a way for your company to implement all the virtual extras listed above, but it can also make it possible for customers to:
- Pre-order products from their mobile devices
- Give them authorized access to locked fitting rooms
- Allow them to make all payments with their mobile devices
#4: Lure Customers in With Outdoor Advertising
Levi’s, the well-known apparel company, began experimenting with alternative ways to use Beacon technology several years ago, and those experiments have led to a number of effective beacon marketing campaigns.
To shake things up a bit, Levi’s began deploying beacon technology on highway and street billboards. Each time a person with a mobile device passed the billboard they were presented with a compelling offer from Levi’s via their mobile device.
Over time, Levi’s took note of how many customers came to the store via the beacon billboard and how many customers purchased a product from the store or the website after receiving an offer. They noticed a drastic increase in store traffic and sales as a result of the Beacon-enabled billboards.
“We expect Beacons to directly influence over $4 billion worth of US retail sales this year at top retailers (.1% of the total), and that number will climb tenfold in 2016. – Cooper Smith, Business Insider
#5: You’ll Need to Address Security and Privacy Concerns
Though Beacon technology is simple to implement and effective in targeting customers, there are also some concerns that you’ll need to address before you consider using it.
1) Beacon signals are low energy, which means if there are walls, people or other obstacles jamming the signal it can be very difficult to reach your customers.
2) Signals are easy to duplicate, which can make it easy for outside companies and individuals to ‘spoof’. As consumers continue to grow more sensitive to privacy and security issues, this is something your company will want to consider.
3) Some customers may find Beacon technology intrusive. The signals can only work one way from the iBeacon to an ios device, but not all consumers want to be connected to your store in such a personal manner, especially if they haven’t given permission for such access.
4) Some Beacons only work with ios devices, so be sure to you understand compatibility before selecting your Beacon device or Android devices and others will not be accessible with beacon technology.
If you have thought about taking your retail store technology to another level to delight your customers, consider the following things you need to know about Beacon technology before making a decision:
- You can send targeted ads to your customers
- You can implement mobile-friendly in-store navigation and product guides
- You can offer virtual loyalty rewards and cashless payment
- You can lure customers into stores with outdoor advertising
- You need to address security and privacy concerns before implementing
If you’re ready to implement Beacon technology after considering these points, then you’ve found a new avenue to impress your customers.