Back in 2013, Apple quietly launched iBeacon as part of its new iOS 7 operating system. Not much was made of this announcement at the time; the company pretty much breezed over the navigational opportunities this new development promised to unlock.
However, over time, more and more beacon providers and software developers entered the fray, and awareness began to rise regarding the many ways this technology could be leveraged to enhance customer experience offerings.
By using beacons and indoo.rs SDK, for example, retailers can know exactly where a customer is located at any given moment in time. And if that customer has opted in, brands can then push coupons, reminders, or notifications regarding special offers. Further, businesses can gain accurate customer insights in real time, seeing exactly how customers are interacting with their stores and then strategically stocking certain items to maximize conversions.
But beacons can do much more than market to retail consumers and help boost sales. For instance, they can also help the visually impaired navigate unfamiliar buildings, highlighting points of interest such as bathrooms and phone charging stations and granting an unprecedented level of spatial awareness to those who need it most.
Beacon technology is definitely still in its infancy, and the industrial world hasn’t come close to unlocking its full potential. Here are four particular industries that are poised to greatly benefit from beacons down the road:
1. Retail: A recent Forrester study revealed that just 16 percent of retailers currently plan to try beacon technology. The few who have dipped their proverbial toes in the beacon waters include Macy's, Rite Aid, and Target. But the good news is that the beacons market is expected to grow 17 Percent.
Imagine that a customer inputs her grocery list into a beacon-driven app and then is guided through the store via the most efficient route — similar to Google Maps but for the indoors. Throughout the trip, the app sends context-relevant messages, coupons, and advice to the shopper and perhaps even provides a call-for-assistance button that connects her with a sales associate.
2. Air Travel: Within the next few years, 44 percent of airlines plan to use beacons to improve their services and customer experience. Airports will likely do the same, using the technology to assess passenger flow, help travelers get to gates on time, and ensure they know where the nearest restrooms and restaurants are.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Beacons can also cut down on the cost of flight delays, assist baggage handling staff with their responsibilities, limit lost luggage, shorten security lines, and boost the overall efficiency of an airport.
3. Trade shows: Trade shows are getting bigger and bigger, featuring more stands than ever before. Navigating these large events has become somewhat of a nightmare for attendees; it’s often impossible for them to visit every booth and vendor they intend to visit.
Beacons, however, can make it easy for people to negotiate multiple showrooms in an efficient manner. At High Point Market, for example, indoor navigation capabilities were critical for all involved parties. The visitors had a better experience, the exhibitors saw more action, and HPM’s organizers walked away feeling like the event was an overwhelming success.
4. Healthcare: Like trade shows, healthcare facilities continue to expand as well, making it difficult to get from point A to point Z. Beacons hold the potential to make it much easier for patients to find appropriate departments and for visitors to find where their loved ones are being treated.
Further, if beacons are attached to hospital rooms, doctors and nurses could instantaneously download a patient’s medical records onto a digital device, boosting efficiency and productivity. Beyond that, there’s also the potential to attach Bluetooth receivers to medical devices themselves, which would allow facilities to track the location of expensive equipment and quickly find it in the case of an emergency.
Pushing messages to consumers is just skimming the surface of what’s possible with beacon-enabled technology. You’ve got the potential to gather consumer insights, improve the customer experience, and streamline processes for industries across the board.
Take some time to think about what beacons can do for you and your business.