Beacons, Beacons, Everywhere Beacons

In-Store BeaconBeacons are coming to a store near you, in a big way.

Following the launch of in-store beacons in North American stores of Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s Bay this week comes along some research indicating that this is barely the tip of the beacon iceberg.

By the end of this year, there will be 30,000 active beacons in the U.S., with most (80%) of them in retail stores, according to a new report by Business Insider Intelligence.

Viewed another way, beacons will be in only 2% of all U.S. retail locations, including 8% of the top 100 retailers’ locations, according to data in the Beacon Report: Exclusive Market Forecast and Top Strategies as Retailers Race to Adopt Them.

But that’s before the coming massive beacon onslaught.

With more than 50 suppliers manufacturing beacons, the installed base is projected to grow 287% to 5 million beacons within four years. Four million of those are anticipated to be in use by retailers.

The BI Intelligence report notes that half of the top 100 retailers in the U.S. are testing beacons this year, with a third of them expected to have them deployed in stores by the end of next year.

The BI Intelligence forecast is based on conversations with beacon vendors and retailers about the growth in beacon adoption, estimates from other market research firms and historical data on growth for disruptive in-store technology, of which beacons certain qualify.

One of the current challenges with beacons, which can cost only a few dollars each and can transmit to about 160 feet, is the status of the phones receiving those signals.

While apps in iPhones can be instantly awakened, courtesy of Apple’s iBeacon technology, Android apps have to be running, at least in the background, not a pleasant state for battery usage, though that issue is expected to be resolved in future iterations of Android.

There are about 260 million iOS smartphones and 310 million Android phones in use around the world that are capable of scanning for nearby beacons. By the end of next year, BI Intelligence estimates that number to pass more than a billion.

The beacons will be in stores and  mobile shoppers will be equipped to receive signals from those beacons.

The looming issue now is the crafting of messaging by retailers so that what the consumer receives makes their shopping experience better.

Otherwise, the new smartphone consumer choice setting for Bluetooth will be Off.

And then it won’t matter how many beacons there are.


Beacons will be a hot topic next week at the MediaPost OMMA mCommerce conference in New York on Aug. 7. We’ll hear from the people involved in the beacon rollouts at Lord & Taylor, Hudson’s Bay, Hillshire and Regent Street. I also plan  to bring a live beacon you can try out. Check out the agenda where you also can register to attend. Will I see you there?

5 comments about "Beacons, Beacons, Everywhere Beacons".
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  1. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, July 30, 2014 at 11:20 a.m.

    Or more reasons to have one.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, July 31, 2014 at 10:29 a.m.

    No business of theirs what I buy or not. Do not want to be spied on or give them the gift of more of my data.

  3. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, July 31, 2014 at 10:35 a.m.

    Beacons provide a one-way radio transmission capability to shoppers who have a smartphone and only to who say they want to receive messages, such as special deals and sales, sent to their phones when they are near the relevant department. Consumers can turn off the messaging capability at any time; all they have to do is turn off Bluetooth, which takes just one tap on the phone. They also can opt-out of all messages at any time.

  4. Brendan Howley from twinfish, August 1, 2014 at 11:03 a.m.

    Yes, data opt-in is clearly a consideration...but beacons are far more than dumb sensors: they're storyworlds—anyone who's thought about the Internet of Things from a storytelling/data layer POV can see this is the beginning of hyperlocal immersive media. And if the data aspect is worked out respectfully, the social possibilities of adaptive media—media that responds to you—are immense. This is way, way bigger than pumping out $5 off coupons at The Gap: it's a whole new way of publishing and connecting. For more see

  5. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, August 1, 2014 at 11:12 a.m.

    Thanks, Brendan, we are on the same page with this, with beacons potentially opening up that storytelling experience. We are quite early in that stage. Beacons can be another cog in the IoT world.

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