What Dallas Retailers Need To Know About Beacons

As a retail owner, you should be interested in anything that promotes your store and its offerings to the greatest number of people. Like a lighthouse, you want marketing that will act as a beacon, attracting customers to your business.

Picture of bluetooth icon

So why not actually use a beacon?

Enter Bluetooth low-energy (BLE) battery-powered devices, which trigger actions and alerts to customers who’re within your store’s proximity. Using these beacons, retailers can alert customers to sales, promotions and in-store events, and restaurants can telegraph new menu items, drink specials and table or reservation availability.

Taking the technology one step further, a customer who pre-ordered an item, could enter a store and, using the beacon technology, check in and pick up their prepaid product without having to go through the checkout process. It’s a convenience to your customer and frees up your staff for other tasks.

Business owners can request a free beacon from Facebook, Apple and Google. Facebook prioritizes fulfillment of requests based on the activity on a business’ Page and how current the content is. Apple and Google beacons are for users of open-source apps such as iBeacon and Eddystone respectively. Google Now can also make use of the new beacon systems.

Beacons are a variant of Bluetooth and allow two-way communication between devices within 30 feet of each other. For those concerned about privacy, fear not. No information is collected from phones or devices other than the user-defined settings, and beacons are not connected to the Internet. The main purpose of beacons is to allow retailers to alert customers within their vicinity to specials and notifications such as order pick-up availability.

Facebook recently launched Place Tips, which allows local businesses to directly connect with customers. In this case, the beacons send out useful information about a business from the business’ Facebook Page, which appears in the customer’s News Feed. Retailers can also write customizable notes that will appear at the top of Place Tips feed.

Place Tips are only available to users who’ve given Facebook permission to access their location on a phone or device and to those who use the check-in feature. The key for businesses to understand is that Place Tips will only appear if the business has posted content on its Page, so being active and engaged on social media is integral to making this new technology effective.

Twitter has yet to actively enter the beacon game but has made a substantial investment in Swirl, a technology that places relevant ads in a Twitter feed while shoppers are in a participating store.

Beacon technology is a development that could drive retail and restaurant sales with little effort from business owners. The key is staying active on your social channels to help facilitate integration with beacon tools and apps offered by those platforms.