Recently the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) announced in a press release that they would be holding a high tech scavenger hunt using iBeacon technology at the upcoming International CES in Las Vegas, NV. To participate in the game, attendees at CES simply download the official CES Mobile App to their Android or iOS device and from there they can earn badges as they explore the expo halls. The first three verified users who collect all the badges will be awarded prizes.
What Are iBeacons
For those unfamiliar with iBeacon technology, iBeacons are low powered Bluetooth sensors which are able to send and receive information to users who are within the range of the devices. Despite being a product of Apple, iBeacons are compatible with Android devices, however competitors such as Qualcomm have introduced competing devices such as the Gimbal.
Not Just For Games
Although CEA is using iBeacon technology to power a scavenger hunt, the technology is becoming a vital tool for retailers to combat lost sales from showrooming – industry slang for when customers visit a store to test the merchandise but then purchase the item online.
The most notable example of iBeacon usage is the recent partnership between ShopKick and Macy’s to create Shopbeacon technology [PDF]. In a nutshell, ShopKick is like Foursquare in that users receive points for check-ins, however ShopKick focuses on retail by offering points and discounts when a user checks into a store or scans the barcodes of select merchandise.’
The biggest benefits to retailers who adopt this technology is that they are better able to target discounts to customers based on their browsing activity within the store. This is a game changer because brick and mortar locations now have the ability to gain intelligence on their customers in ways which were previously limited to digital retailers.
Why Does This Matter to You
Overall the rise of iBeacon technology is going to be a game changer for business professionals and consumers because it makes location tracking much more accessible to virtually anyone. The image to the right is a picture of Qualcomm’s Gimbal sensor which literally is close to the size of a quarter, and yet packs enough power to handle troves of traffic. The sensor even comes with a sticky back so the users don’t need to worry about complex installation systems.
Thanks to these technologies, expect brick and mortar retailers to become just as adept as Amazon when it comes to product suggestions, and also expect to see much more efficient inventory control as retailers are now able to calculate demand for goods on the fly.
Ultimately it will be difficult for retailers to fully compete against online retailers in terms of price due to overhead costs, however brick and mortar retailers will now be able to trigger spur of the moment purchases through effective discount targeting.