Anne-Marina Dickson

Beacons: What are they and how can they help my business?

The buzzword of the past few months has been iBeacon. Everyone is talking about it and how to use it to increase user engagement and revenue, but just what is it?

First of all, iBeacon is merely the Apple version (denoted by the 'i') of a particular type of technology that runs on Bluetooth Smart. Beacon technology is not exclusive to Apple, they just brought it further mainstream when they launched it across their US retail stores in December 2013. It's designed to provide interaction with your customers according to their specific location. Back to basics, it works like this:

- Purchase, at least 3, beacons from a vendor and set them up with their own unique identifier

- Create a mobile app for iOS 7+ or Android 4.3+ which triggers certain actions when it is in range of your Beacons (using their unique identifiers)

- Setup your Geo-Fence. Beacons have a 70m range, meaning they can detect your customers up to 70m away.

What is most magic about Beacon technology is that your customer doesn't need to have the app running on their device when they are in range of the Beacon. Think of a Beacon like a light-house which is constantly pinging out a signal in a 70m radius. So how does all of this help your business?

A practical implementation of this might work as follows:

You are walking around Woolworths and have the Woolworths application downloaded on your phone. The 3 beacons setup around the store pickup your device when they are pinging for connections. By co-ordinating the feedback and relative distance you are from each beacon the application on your phone can determine which aisle you are shopping in (fresh food for instance). Using this information, they can then present you with an offer for a product in that aisle which is cross-referenced against your previous purchase history. Giving you, the customer, an appropriate, time-sensitive, location based offer that you are more likely to interact with than a generic offer sent to your email account.

That's just one example of how you can use Beacons to further your business, but don't limit your thinking to just in-store retail - there are lots of scenarios where you can use Bluetooth Smart, Beacons and mobile technology to increase your business. 


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Anne-Marina Dickson G67 Anne-Marina Dickson
Company: G67
Position: Mobile & Digital Consultant
The founder of G67, a consultancy firm which devises bespoke digital strategies for small businesses. With 15 years experience in the digital space, across telco, media, music, real estate and SMEs we can help you optimise your digital assets to meet your business goals.

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