The beacon — a low-cost device that retailers can attach to store shelves or walls to communicate with customer smartphones — is coming into its own. Beacon programs are quickly moving out of beta phase and becoming an integral part of the retail industry.
Beacons can be used to power indoor maps, payments services, and location-sensitive product catalogues. There are many different beacon hardware vendors and systems — including Apple’s iBeacon system — but they all share some basic characteristics. Namely, they allow retailers and event organisers to efficiently communicate indoors, without a need for GPS.
In a new report from BI Intelligence, we gauge how far along beacons have advanced as an indoor-communication technology. Consider:
- Beacons — low-cost devices that communicate with smartphone apps indoors — will begin exerting a significant influence on US retail sales in 2015.
- Beacon-influenced sales volume will ramp up quickly, as many forms of in-store marketing take up the technology, including couponing. iPhone and Android smartphones are compatible with this technology. We estimate that beacon-triggered messages could directly influence up to $US4.1 billion of total US store sales this year (or .1% of sales volume at top-100 retailers). That figure will grow 10X in 2016.
- Consumer app usage will help speed adoption of beacon programs. The lion’s share of audience time on mobile is spent in apps. Beacon marketing requires that customers have targeted apps on their phones.
- Beacons will help offline retailers integrate their loyalty, payments, and digital-marketing programs.
In full, the report:
- Provides an explainer of how beacons work, as well as access to a supplementary FAQ
- Shows a complete list of what factors are driving beacon adoption among retailers and shoppers
- Includes a dollar-figure market forecast of how many sales will be influenced by beacon-triggered messages this year and in 2016
- Looks at how much bigger sales influenced by beacons messages could be if retailers effectively harness the technology and convince consumers to opt-in to app-based beacon programs
- Gives detailed examples of how retailers are using beacons today, and how they might be used in the future, based on our conversations with beacon vendors
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