Few retail tech advances have come with the aura that surrounds beacons and location-based marketing. However, just because pundits believe a technology will take off doesn’t mean retailers feel the same way. Are merchants adopting beacons? Are they using them in innovative and unexpected ways? The only way to find out is to dive into the data.
Some Retailers Adopt Beacons, But More Want To
Like many other disruptive tech innovations, beacons may still be too new of a technology for a majority of retailers to welcome with open arms and wallets. That is the gist of an August 2015 study from Retail Systems Research – though only 17 percent of retailers have implemented beacons into their in-store operations, a majority of 55 percent admitted that the technology seems promising and valuable.
That should come as good news for beacon proponents. Before retailers can adopt beacons across the industry, there needs to be a groundswell of popular support for the technology. Moreover, a 38-point difference between retailers that have implemented beacons and those that want to cannot sustain itself for long – either favorable attitudes toward beacons will cool, or the industry is getting closer to an adoption tipping point.
Retailers With Beacons Like What They See
Unlike a new POS system or an engaging product display, the true value of beacons lies not in their installation, but the data they can provide retailers once they’ve been up and running around consumers. In that vein, adoption can be a misleading statistic – after all, if retailers can’t make use of the data beacons produce, what’s the use in chasing higher adoption figures?
Fortunately for retailers, the early results from merchants that have implemented beacons are promising. According to a 100-member survey of retail executives conducted by Retail TouchPoints, those that have made the switch to beacons report high satisfaction marks in several areas:
- 71 percent are “able to track and understand browsing and buying patterns”
- 65 percent are “able to target customers down to the aisle level”
- 59 percent see that “customers are more engaged in the store”
- 53 percent are “able to create more relevant and compelling offers in the store”
These numbers are all well and good for retail analysts, but when it comes to helping retailers drive more sales and earn more revenue, do beacons pull their own weight? The executives polled in the Retail TouchPoints survey think so. Twenty-four percent reported increases in sales due to beacons, and another 24 percent claimed that the tech helped boost offer redemption rates.
The Crucial Factor?
So if an overwhelming majority of retailers are reporting positive to very positive experiences with beacon technology, is the secret to success with beacons simply throwing the switch and diving head first into this emerging field? Like everything in retail, success comes from planning and consideration instead of blind luck, and Sampo Parkkinen, director of product management at retail analytics firm ShopperTrak, told Enterprise App Today that each retailer needs to take a good hard look at his or her business before making the move toward beacons.
“You need to decide if [beacons] will add to the customer experience or produce friction,” Parkkinen said. “If you are thinking about doing something with beacons, think about what you want to achieve — what are the points where the technology adds to or detracts from the customer experience. Make sure that the customer information is shared with different departments in the company.”
Beacons, despite their demonstrated promise, should not be implemented lightly. However, the retailers that move ahead with in-store beacon strategies could have gold mines of proven data waiting for them – if they know exactly how they need to work for it.