Beacons Vs. Wi-Fi, the In-Store Marketing Debate

Just as there’s been a never-ending discussion between apps vs. mobile websites, there now may be a similar debate between beacons vs. Wi-Fi for in-store marketing.

While beacons have taken mindshare and budgets, their use is still somewhat limited, notes a new report.

Wi-Fi indoor location application revenue is expected to hit $2.5 billion by 2020, according the report by ABI Research.

While the research firm says Wi-Fi is in a precarious position as an indoor location and analytics tool, it still may have an edge.

This is because Wi-Fi is ubiquitous on smartphones and available in more than half of major retail stores in the U.S., giving it massive reach and an edge over beacons for in-store analytics.

Even while proximity advertising makes the news, retailers are getting more tuned in to in-store analytics, which represents a major evolution in people counting and loyalty programs, according to the report.

This data can be used to streamline store layouts, improve staffing, measure advertising performance and enhance loyalty programs as part of a more robust smartphone approach.

However, as beacons get deployed by the thousands throughout the retail world, highly targeted shopper interaction is growing.

We know from numerous studies that a number of shoppers are totally open to receiving targeted messaging as they shop.

They are not likely to care if the messaging occurred because of beacons, Wi-Fi or some other connected objects.

They just want messaging that matters to them at the right time.

2 comments about "Beacons Vs. Wi-Fi, the In-Store Marketing Debate".
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  1. Devika Girish from MobStac, November 3, 2015 at 3:19 a.m.

    Great read Chuck. And yes I totally agree with what you said - as beacons get deployed by thousands throughout the retail world it will no longer matter if businesses use beacons or Wi-fi to push notifications to customers. All that would matter then is whether the messages add value by being personalized and contextual. In fact,  in many cases,the best solution is to opt for a combination of these technologies. We have pointed out the basic differences between Wi-fi and BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) and how they fit in together here:


  2. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, November 3, 2015 at 12:25 p.m.

    Thank you, Devika. And yes, time will tell which way the market goes, likely both.

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