67% Say Tracking Could Improve Their In-Store Experience; 19 Million Already Beaconed

Shoppers are warming to beacons and virtual reality.

The majority of consumers are open to location-based technology as long as it improves their shopping experience, according to a new study.

In the no-surprise department, coupons are viewed as the biggest incentive, based on a survey of 1,400 U.S. consumers focused on shopping habits and emerging retail technology conducted by Walker Sands.

While a third (33%) of consumers aren’t open to beacons or any location-based technology in stores, 67% say in-store tracking could improve their in-store shopping experience.

Here’s the rundown of location technology that consumers say would improve their shopping experience:

  • 52% -- Coupons
  • 36% -- Product content and reviews
  • 30% -- Indoor mapping with product locations

The big stumbling block for more consumers opting in to beaconing to receive in-store notifications is privacy. Interestingly, downloading a retailer’s app is at the bottom of the list of issues that stop shoppers from using beacon-triggered offers.

This has been a persistent pain for most entities using beacons, since in addition to Bluetooth being turned on, a certain app associated with the beacons being used has to be on the shopper’s phone.

And then the consumer has to agree to receive messages as they shop. Here’s what’s preventing consumers from agreeing to receive in-store messages as they shop:

  • 64% -- Privacy concerns
  • 64% -- Fear of message overload
  • 55% -- Security concerns
  • 46% -- Creepiness factor
  • 39% -- Hassle of downloading retail app

A major finding in the study is the number of people who say they have been beaconed in a store.

Six percent of consumers say they have been beaconed for in-store tracking, according to Walker Sands. That translates to roughly 19 million consumers.

And beacons are not the only IoT technology retailers should be looking at.

The majority (55%) of consumers expect that virtual reality will impact their buying decisions in one way another.

A third (33%) of consumers would be more likely to shop with retailers that offer a VR experience and 24% would be more likely to buy more online from one. A potential downside for retailers is that 17% would be less likely to visit a physical retail store.

The top product categories to be impacted by virtual reality shopping are clothing and apparel, electronics and household goods.

The categories to be least affected by VR are food and groceries, consumer packaged goods and pet supplies.

Whether by beacons or some other means, shoppers are learning that they are being tracked in stores. The value proposition is next.


Looking for insights into wearables? Come hear Chuck Fletcher of Razorfish, Ben Gaddis of T3 and Marley Kaplan of Kinetic Worldwide at the MediaPost IoT Marketing Forum Aug. 3 in New York. Check it out the agenda here

9 comments about "67% Say Tracking Could Improve Their In-Store Experience; 19 Million Already Beaconed".
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  1. Doc Searls from Customer Commons, July 1, 2016 at 9:07 a.m.

    Here's the only value proposition that will work in the long run: customers in full control of their trackability, both in stores and in the whole connected world.

    We should be able to turn tracking on and off as easily as we hit a mute button. And we should know who or what is tracking us, why they're doing it, and to turn our trust of those parties on and off as well. Nothing less will do. And nothing will do more to improve tracking that customers actually welcome, and do not merely accept.

    This degree of agency for individuals cannot be provided by marketers, or even by marketing as a practice, because without exception marketers work for clients, rather than for customers. It has to be provided by tool-makers that work for customers. Find a list here:

  2. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, July 1, 2016 at 2:08 p.m.

    I find this research highly suspect. I wonder what list they started with? 1400 is enough interviews or surveys to be valuable...except this result is entirely out of touch with all my work with consumers.

    And then I love this one item:  they have to turn on Bluetooth. I wonder how many successfully know what Bluetooth is and how to turn it on? Much less pairing and all that hoohah.

    My prediction:  the research was done with a tech skewed list (like heavy online shoppers) and in an abstract way. But put the same tech skewed people into a real world environment and they'd be lucky to find 5% willing to beacon.

    This repor just doesn't pass the smell test.

  3. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin replied, July 1, 2016 at 5:37 p.m.

    No argument there, Doc, but it's going to takesome time for marketers to come around to this.

  4. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin replied, July 1, 2016 at 5:39 p.m.

    The researcher who did the study said the base was a representative sample of the U.S. population, Doug, if that helps at all. They also did include the actual word "beacon" in the question. I had the same reaction as you and contacted the researcher for just that reason before writing this.

  5. Edwin Acevedo from BKON, July 3, 2016 at 11:50 p.m.

    I suspect that by beacon, the study means iBeacon. The iBeacon protocol is designed to track, learn, then predict customer behavior and to push messages at the right moment. A powerful alternative is to use beacons for the Physical Web, a mobile engagement strategy that focuses instead on content and emphasizes delivering relevant content to customers when they request it. Physical Web beacons are associated with “things,” where a thing might be a lawnmower, a cosmetic product, a bus stop or a restaurant menu. The main objective of an engagement strategy is frequent, positive interaction to meet a customer’s immediate need in relation to these things. When complemented by, the Physical Web has much more upside compared to iBeacon.

  6. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin replied, July 4, 2016 at 10:40 a.m.

    In this case, Edwin, the study is referring to beacons (Apple or Android) used in retail environments.

  7. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC replied, July 4, 2016 at 4:56 p.m.

    Interesting. Given your additions, my guess is that consumers really didn't understand the questions they were answering.

    One of the most insidious mistakes in research is forgetting that consumers answer all questions - whether they understand it or not and whether they have an opinion or not. Add to this that often research doesn't give them answers to accurately reflect their opinions IF they do understand the question.

    anyway, that's my guess. This is a highly technical topic that I'll bet people didn't understand...but answer anyway (kind of a trained response from schooling)... Cheers...

  8. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin replied, July 4, 2016 at 6:59 p.m.

    The study actually included descriptions of the words, Doug. For example, if they used the word 'beacon,' they included a parenthetical description, such as "mobile location tracking capability."

  9. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC replied, July 5, 2016 at 5:51 p.m.

    Thanks. I'll remain quite skeptical of their claims... :-)

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