August 13, 2014
There has been quite a buzz around the prospects of Bluetooth-enabled miniature devices. There are numerous cases of beacon deployments by retailers and other businesses. Even Let’s Talk Payments has published numerous articles about beacons. We have talked about beacon-enabled mobility, developments in adoption of the technology and even the scope of beacons in payments.
Regarding practical scenarios, usually we witness beacons being deployed at entrances and exits of venues and on some walls inside stores. But beacons can be found in unexpected places. Some unique cases show surprising use of beacons:
Universal Display, a prominent mannequin supplier, founded a technology firm called Iconeme. Iconeme recently launched VM Beacon, which enables information to be sent to devices up to 50 meters away. Iconeme’s beacons are being put inside mannequins, and the firm’s white-label app displays information about the clothing product displayed physically using beacon-fitted mannequins.
This enables retailers, using Universal Display’s mannequins, to send alerts to customers who are simply passing by and do not even enter the stores. Universal Display is leveraging its wide retail client base to deploy Iconeme’s technology in the stores of Hawes & Curtis, House of Fraser, Bentalls and other popular brands.
Here is an illustration depicting Iconeme’s beacons:
As people who like shop windows, we looked at ways of embracing what we do and bringing it to the 21st century and creating something that could work with both brick and mortar shops and online, said Jonathan Berlin, Iconeme co-founder and managing director at Universal Display, in a press release. If used in the right way, it’s incredibly beneficial for the retailer. If you’re smart and you deliver something that is user-friendly, educational and practical, it is a great item for consumers to have.
Carrefour, the multinational retail-chain operator, and Nisa, a convenience-store group, have piloted the beacon technology across their stores. The beacons are attached to shopping carts and baskets to track shoppers’ in-store movement. The deployment has been carried out in three Carrefour locations in Madrid and three Nisa stores in London. Also, beacons attached to the ceiling work in sync with those on shopping carts. The location data collected by the beacons is transmitted to a cloud-based back-end server for analysis.
Merchants can gain insights into the overall time shoppers spend in the store and also which particular product aisles are attracting more shoppers. The data is collected anonymously, but an app is to be launched to gain more insights into individual shopper. With the beacons attached to shopping carts and baskets, the system can track customers without requiring a dedicated app or smartphone.
Here is an illustration depicting how shoppers are monitored in the store:
The beacon technology for these stores has been provided by Proximus, whichplans to offer beacon-based solutions as part of retailers’ loyalty programs. The solutions you find out there in the market today are either based on a WiFi signal, so you need the consumer to have their WiFi on, or iBeacons, which are very popular nowadays, said Proximus CEO Jorge Bueno, in a press release. But with an iBeacon solution, you need the consumer to download an app and use that app, and that is quite a difficult thing to do. We wanted to be completely independent from all of the interaction with the customer so the customer doesn’t have to do anything to change their habits. Changing the habits of a customer is very, very hard so we tried to adapt our technology so that there is zero customer interaction, a 100% rate of valuable information.
Grolsch, the Dutch beer brand, is running a unique coupon-code promotion, MovieUnlocker, in which Bluetooth beacons are placed inside bottle caps. When Grolsch drinkers open beer bottles, they can sync the beacon inside the cap with their phone or laptop to unlock a free movie to watch. The technology, developed by Heads and Hands, transmits a radio signal from the beacon to a server with a previously registered serial number. Once a connection has been established, the drinker can pick a film to receive.
Each beacon is protected by a sticker that blocks transmission until the bottle is opened, ensuring that the movie has not been claimed or lost before reaching consumers. When a bottle is opened, the beacon sends a signal to a device with a previously registered serial number, and if these match, users can digitally unlock a movie of their choice.
Here is an illustration showing the Grolsch promotion:
The caps are compatible with modern phones equipped with next-generation Bluetooth connectivity. In a press release, Aleksandr Semenov, CEO of Heads and Hands, said: We were aware of a current campaign being carried out in Russia by Grolsch that allows consumers to enter promotional codes found on its bottles in to its partners websites. This enables people to access a movie for free. We liked this idea, but thought we could make the process a whole lot easier. So, we developed this new ‘one-touch’ technology for the bottles in order to facilitate the transaction in a single step.
With the upgrade in levels of beacon technology, beacons are getting cheaper by the day and an array of possible use cases are developing, such as work-force management and asset management, showing the industry the power the beacon technology possesses.