July 8, 2015
The forefront of Internet of Things functionality is at our doorstep. Our vehicles unlock automatically, our thermostats adjust to our preferences automatically, and soon with the implementation of bluetooth beacons, any interaction or communication will be automated. This emerging ‘Internet of Things' revolution is making itself apparent in every walk of life.
A bluetooth beacon is a receiver that interacts with a mobile application on a user’s device. Eventually, beacons are going to be everywhere; they will radically change the way in which we interact with the world around us. Their potential uses can be as diverse as using them in airports and sports arenas, to retail and grocery stores. Some initial functions developers have put out there include geofencing, which creates some what of an ‘in-facility’ map where if a user passes a beacon, information can be sent about a product in the vicinity.
This is the case with a new platform called Grocer, which takes the shopping experience and attempts to make it more efficient during that activity. The Grocer application is a white-label product that is currently available to all grocery retailers in the US. One current client that has utilized the system is Tony's Store. Users will download the application and enable their bluetooth. When inside a grocery store they can see a live map of all their goods as well as receive alerts about preset preferred products.
The Grocer app provides users with push notifications when they approach a certain product they may have referenced as a favorite, or purchased in the past. It will also let the user know if a certain product is on sale as they approach the item. If the user has a grocery list going, the application itself will recognize what's on the list, and push notify a reminder to buy that item in the store. The bluetooth enabled beacons will even push notify a recipe to the user that uses the products in their current aisle. Eventually, the application can help grocer themselves run reports and automate inventory restock.
In the past, retailers have hit many barriers reaching their customers when they're not in the store, but they can now easily overcome this barrier by utilizing beacon technology. Retailers can now identify their customers when they are both in and out of the store, target them with offers and promotions, and track the users' retail habits.
Grocer was designed to rely heavily on intelligence and analytics data. So, if you’re an 18-year-old walking near the diaper aisle, it won’t notify you of any diaper deals. But if you’re 50+, standing in line to get your prescription filled, the app might notify you to fill up on joint supplements. The goal when designing the app was to take full advantage of beacon capabilities to bring the best possible grocery experience.
Users now have a more interactive shopping experience as well as optimizing their literal store navigation. Time and again shoppers roam the aisles looking for a specific product, beacons help locate the user, then locate their desired product and direct them there. In the meantime these beacons also help send data to those who make inventory calls. So they can either reorganize the floor to market items that need to move or they can get a general picture of what shoppers typically buy more of (based on privacy permissions of course).
The scale of beacons will grow in use while shrinking in actual size. Scaling the use of these beacons and providing users with more informed options is just a taste of how innovative a user experience can be with the advent of affordable beacon development.
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