BLE and Beacon Technology to Change the Future of Retail Advertising

The future of retail isn’t just about advanced gadgets and equipment. It’s about the experience that people encounter when shopping.

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In the 2002 science fiction thriller film Minority Report, directed by Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise was met by a slew of personalized ads that not only know him by name, but were activated at the exact moment he walked by. The scene seemed pretty futuristic at the time.



‘Minority Report’ Marketing

In 2002, the above-mentioned scene appeared to be highly advanced and even a bit scary to the average consumer. Today, though, the concept of real-time, personalized advertisement isn’t just possible, it’s already here.

In fact, e-commerce sites have been doing it for years. Online stores use consumer data and behavioral targeting to serve up user-specific landing pages, product recommendations, and offers. Two shoppers can enter the same URL, but see completely different things, depending on their purchase history and online behavior.

Yes, personalized advertising and marketing isn’t new at all in e-commerce. However, the same cannot be said about physical retail stores. At brick and mortar locations, personal shopping experiences pretty much equate to sales reps chatting up consumers as they browse through a store.

That’s about to change.

Thanks to advancements in geo-targeting, as well as burgeoning technologies like BLE, retailers can bring that same “Minority Report” marketing experience to shoppers.

Picture this: When you walk into a store, you won’t need sales reps telling you which items are on sale, your phone will automatically deliver the relevant offers. Need help locating a particular item? You can skip the aimless store wandering, because thanks to indoor mapping, your mobile device can point you in the right direction.


BLE and Beacon Technology Meets Retail

Short for Bluetooth Low Energy, BLE is a technology that allows Bluetooth 4.0 devices (i.e. dongles, sensors, phones, etc.) to transmit data to other BLE-enabled devices in range. While relatively new, a number of companies have already taken steps to leverage the technology and are introducing it to retailers.

Take PayPal, for example. The payment processing giant recently unveiled PayPal Beacon, a device that allows retailers to seamlessly connect with any shopper who has the PayPal app installed. Stores simply plug the dongle into an outlet, computer, or compatible POS system to enable shoppers to automatically check-in, receive special offers without lifting a finger, or complete purchases without cash or credit cards.

Then there’s Estimote, a startup that offers its own Beacon solution. Similar to PayPal Beacon, retailers can purchase an Estimote Beacon (i.e. a “mote”), place it in their store and use it to broadcast messages or alerts to shoppers who have BLE-enabled devices.

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