The digital future of retail

Wave 2 Blog

The digital future of retail

Ann is a 25 year old, cash rich, active young female. She is active on various social networks, likes running, shopping, movies and socialises frequently with family and friends.

One day she walks into a store and receives a multi media message with video, images and text. When she clicks the video, a friendly voice says “Hi Ann, welcome back to our store, we have a new line of active wear waiting for you in isle 3 and some cute shoes in your favorite colour in isle 7”.

Ann, feeling welcomed and “special”, proceeds to those isles, where she finds something she likes. As she browses her way to the check stands, she spots several additional items, which she tries on and decides to purchase too.

Does this sound far fetched? It’s not.

This technology is here today! And while still in its infancy, retailers around the world have already started experimenting with this. They are trying to see what works, what doesn’t and how to create that enhanced, in-store, experience that drives purchases to ever higher levels.

You can credit Apple for a lot of this, as they introduced a protocol called iBeacon at their Developers Conference in 2013.

iBeacon allows Mobile Apps (running on both iOS and Android devices) to listen for signals from beacons in the physical world and react accordingly. In essence, iBeacon technology allows Mobile Apps to understand their position on a micro-local scale, and deliver hyper-contextual content to users based on location. The underlying communication technology is "Bluetooth Low Energy", as the name suggests, a version of Bluetooth with low energy consumption and perfect to transmit information over short distances – like within a retail store.

iBeacons are not just for sending retail messages (although that is an up and coming trend). The London Tube uses iBeacons to help the visually impaired navigate the system and, over in the US, Miami Airport uses the iBeacons to inform travelers of Gate-Changes, flight delays, arrivals and much more.

As already mentioned, the adaptation of iBeacons in retail is rising quickly and Juniper Research predicts that Beacons will deliver a massive 1.6 Billion coupons by 2020. However, Juniper also cautioned about the use of Beacons as it still new and too many messages might lead to consumers feeling their space was being violated, thus damaging the relationship between retailers and shoppers.

Of course, there is much more to addressing shoppers than just installing a Beacon. In fact, the Beacon itself is not a big investment at all. It is the rest of the technology eco-system that will make it a real solution. Not to mention a strategy, backed by careful analysis of human psychology and buying habits.

After all, just broadcasting messages to everyone indiscriminately is more likely to turn people off than incite them to purchase.

Most of the iBeacon manufacturers offer programming kits that allow 3rd party developers to access the inner workings of their particular model.

With that said, an interesting link can be laid between the creation of these eco-systems and a Wave 2 product such as Easybuild. After all, automatically creating multi-media advertising content is the prime objective of Easybuild and it should be no surprise that there would be a great fit. Just imagine a Beacon having a access to a large databank of customized messages. Or even better, an interactive method to create a highly personalized message “on-the-fly” the moment a new shopper comes within range of a Beacon. The opportunities are of course boundless and only time will tell how ideas like this will pan out.

Suffice to say, we are ready to be part of it all and would welcome opportunities to get involved it exploring this technology. After all, we already have automated content creation solutions.

Give us a call or get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

Some interesting companies to who offer solutions include:

InMarket – They offer a platform for Retailers, Brands and Apps
Swirl – An in-Store marketing platform
Mobiquity – A network that is already in place at over 100 US malls.
Estimote– Offers a developer’s kit for $99