It’s only been two years since Apple unveiled its iBeacon Bluetooth transmitter technology at the 2013 Worldwide Developer’s Conference. However, a number of major companies and brands have already been using beacons to provide their customers with new and exciting location-based services.
So far, most customers and companies haven’t yet figured out how to embrace iBeacon on a wide scale. The technology presents a number of challenges, namely in that customers need to have Bluetooth enabled and have a brand’s app installed in order to receive promotional offers and other location-based services.
Companies Successfully Using iBeacon Retail Technology
Here are five companies that are already using iBeacon technology—as well as learning how Apple’s low-energy Bluetooth protocol can enhance their bottom lines.
Apple was always going to be the first major brand to go all-in with beacons. They had to lead by example, and they did just that, adding iBeacon technology to every one of their 250+ retail stores throughout the United States.
Using Bluetooth beacons, the Apple Store is able to send notifications to customers about a number of things, from order and repair completions, to Genius Bar appointments, to iPhone upgrade eligibility and beyond.
Apple even wants customers to read reviews for different products and shop for device accessories right from their phone. In essence, Apple is blending the in-store and online shopping experiences into one, which means that beacons might just be able to help with the notorious crowd problems that tend to plague Apple retail stores.
2. Major League Baseball
In spring 2014, Major League Baseball launched iBeacon by outfitting most of its stadiums with hundreds of iBeacon antennas. The idea was to give fans anywhere in the stadiums a chance to check in at games and receive a number of relevant push notifications.
So far, the MLB has done a great job of using beacons to enhance the ticket-buyer experience at games—whether by highlighting must-see attractions and points-of-interest in the ballpark for first-time visitors, or by regaling guests with fan merchandise coupons, concessions offers, seat upgrades, and more. The effort has paid off, with MLB mobile check-ins more than doubling during the 2014 season.
Last holiday season, Macy’s used iBeacon technology to improve the shopping experience in 800+ stores throughout the United States. The retail company partnered with Shopkick, an app that sends coupons to customers based on location, in order to send offers, discount notifications, and product recommendations to customers perusing their stores.
Macy’s is basically using iBeacon to point customers in the right direction of products and sales they might be interested in, with the goal of boosting sales, revenues, and customer satisfaction.
Mingleton is using iBeacon in a completely different fashion than the other companies on this list. An app-based dating service, Mingleton uses beacons to let members see other singles who are located in their vicinity.
Interestingly, Mingleton doesn’t require a business to have an iBeacon antenna installed in order to work. Instead, the app basically turns your iPhone into an iBeacon antenna, anonymously broadcasting your dating profile to people within a 150-foot radius. It’s an idea that we expect other dating apps like Tinder will implement in the future.
5. Virgin Atlantic
Like online dating, airline travel is also an industry that will likely be revolutionized by iBeacon technology. The first airline to give the technology a try was Virgin Atlantic, which began testing beacons at London Heathrow Airport in May of last year.
With beacons, Virgin was able to let passengers know about in-flight entertainment, currency exchange offers, and other promotions. In the future, airlines and airports might be able to use beacons to update passengers on flight delays, cancellations, expected arrival times, and more.
The Future of Beacons
What other ways are there for iBeacons to improve the customer experience and further a brand’s mission statement? Is your business using beacon technology? If so, in what capacity? Share your insight in the comments!
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