Many more beacons will be felt, even if not necessarily seen.
Beacons have been installed in many stores of many retailers, at least initially as trials of one sort or another.
The little radio-transmitting, battery-powered devices have been sold by the thousands and many have been deployed at store entrances and in various departments.
But the idea of having to replace batteries in thousands of beacons somewhere down the road has hardly been an appealing idea to anyone involved in store operations.
There are now 6 million beacons in the marketplace, according to Unacast, a beacon data platform company. That’s 33% more than just the previous quarter
In addition to retail, beacons are in 93% of Major League Baseball stadiums, 75% of National Football League stadiums, 53% of National Basketball Association arenas and 47% of National Hockey League arenas, according to Unacast.
But beacons at retail provide a relative sweet spot for mobile commerce.
For example, beacons are installed at more than 100 stores (Burberry, Hugo Boss, Godiva, etc.) on Regent Street in London. Those beacons are tuned to pedestrian traffic so passersby receive mobile messages when they’re in the right place.
And the beacons drive results.
Almost half (48%) of those with the Regent Street app use it more than twice a month, according to Henry Lawson, CEO of AutoGraph, the company that deployed and runs the Regent Street beaconing program for the association.
Regent Street stores are getting a 10-times uplift in offer redemption from beaconing and 63% are using the app to plan visits to restaurants, according to Lawson.
But over time, the actual standalone beacon is becoming embedded in other things, from Wi-Fi access points in large stores to lighting.
As a result, the location data from beaconing is becoming more integrated with other location data, such as from GPS signals and Wi-Fi.
As yet another example of beacons integrating with other aspects of commerce, the platform of Boston-based Swirl just became integrated with Oracle so that personalized marketing, via beacons, can occur in a more integrated fashion.
The idea is that in-store shopper behavioral data can be used to target and deliver personalized content with Oracle Marketing Cloud.
The Swirl platform leverages digital location signals from beacons, GPS and Wi-Fi to generate first-party data for different marketing channels.
The initial thought for many installing beacons was that in-store shoppers could be sent messages as they neared certain products.
The reality is that beacons can do so much more.
Since they awaken specific mobile apps on a phone, they can be used to gather customer feedback via surveys after a customer leaves a store. They also can be used for retargeting shoppers later with personalized emails or online ads, as well as being able to check the effectiveness of paid media in driving store traffic.
In addition to being the place where most shoppers buy the most, physical stores now become a key asset in cross-channel marketing. And the beaconing helps. A lot.