Micro-location, the next big thing in shopper marketing

When Apple rolled out its newest iOS this past fall, most people probably did not pay attention to the quickly mentioned iBeacon. According to ClickZ, what existed on a single slide of a much larger presentation actually poses some interesting new opportunities for retailers.


From the article:

Unlike GPS (which relies on satellites and line of sight), iBeacon is all about proximity and works indoors. Retailers can place beacons around departments, in aisles, in front of the store; anywhere they and their customers will benefit from the ability to alert customers’ apps about specials, draw directory maps, or provide information upon crossing into a micro-location.

It’s a new way to “showroom.” A consumer can view a product online and then go to the store to sample it and purchase it; the iBeacon improves in-store navigation by telling the consumer where it is as he enters the particular micro-location. I’ll use the example of my wife, who loves to shop for shoes, to illustrate how this micro-location works.

Generally, her shopping journey starts by conducting some online research and product comparison/ reviews. As she narrows her decision, the site will inform her about local availability and she marks/likes them. She uses traditional mapping info to find the nearest retailer and off we go to the mall. Here’s where iBeacon comes in.

The retailer can place the sensors throughout its aisles and assist my wife, armed with her BLE-enabled iPhone, to find the shoes she looked at online with in-store mapping.

As she enters the mall or store, the local iBeacons communicate with her phone via BLE. The different iBeacons will tell her the location of the shoes she wants (pumps, flats, dress shoes, etc.), use local iBeacon data to navigate her through the store, and inform her about specials and item information as she stands in front of them or enters each micro-location. In addition, the iBeacons can cross-promote merchandise by navigating her past specific aisles and products.