Beacon vendor ShopX is planning to give away a million beacons to U.S. retailers in hopes of grabbing a bigger share of the market for its software-as-a-service management platform.
Why the big giveaway? “Beacons are going to get commoditized at some point anyway,” ShopX CEO Wayne Kyle told MediaPost. The beacon maker is targeting large retailers, mostly chains, “so we can roll out 1,000 beacons at a time,” said Kyle. “It may take three months or three years, we don’t know.”
ShopX builds its own beacons, but the company’s software platform — also being given away free — will work with other beacons, such as those from Gimbal or Estimote, Kyle said. What aren’t not free are the mobile enterprise management tools, which start at $99 per month per store.
The beacons, which will work with both iOS and Android devices simultaneously, come with terms and conditions, and qualification for the giveaway “will be strictly and solely determined by ShopX,” according to the ShopX website. The company hopes to enable at least 100,000 retail outlets on the ShopX platform through the giveaway, which would make it it the largest beacon deployment to date.
Aside from being a brand-building loss leader, the giveaway is intended to spread the idea of using beacons not just to push messages and offers to customers in stores, but to use beacons to improve workforce management and customer experience by creating an in-store link between customers to sales associates. “In-store navigation can be much more than finding products,” Kyle said. “It can be about finding people.”
While the price of physical beacons themselves will be driven down, the real cost of beacons will be in training employees in how to interact with beaconed customers. Corporate and in-store management teams also have to be trained in what beacons do and don’t do, and corporate technology staffs will have to learn how to integrate beacon-related functionality with existing customer-data systems.