The cost of beaconing may be going up, but the price of beacons may be coming down. As in way down. One beacon company just announced that it plans to give away for free a million beacons to U.S. retailers. And rather than pushing messages to beaconed customers in stores, the intent of beacon company ShopX is to use beacons to provide an in-store link from customer to sales employee.
The different ways beacons are used continues to evolve. There is active beaconing, passive beaconing and now requested beaconing. One of the first and most obvious beaconing approaches was to use beacon signals to trigger messaging to nearby smartphones owned by people who want such messages.
Beacons are about to cause yet another new twist on in-store shopping. We know from various research studies that even though many people use their phones while they shop in stores, many also do not. A novel in-store approach shown at the NRF conference and expo this week highlighted how beacons can tap into mobile phones in a pocket or purse and leverage location information along with past behaviors to customize nearby on-screen displays.
The road map of the mobile customer journey if not a bit bumpy is at the very least becoming somewhat more complex. Some of the issues were candidly highlighted on the exhibit floor and in conference presentations at the annual show to which retailers trek in hopes of finding the latest technologies and innovations to help them better address the customer path to purchase.
Watch shopping is on the way. No, not shopping for a watch, but rather shopping with a watch, specifically Apple's. And this watch shopping will be triggered by beacons in supermarkets. In what is being billed as the world's first Apple Watch-ready beacon rollout, all 63 Marsh Supermarkets will be equipped with beacons that can trigger messages via Apple Watch.
There are mobile wallets and then there are mobile wallets. At CES this week, I came across several different approaches to mobile wallets. The general idea of a mobile wallet, at least in the minds of many coming out of the mobile world, is that anything in the traditional wallet would be transferred to the phone, so you could leave your wallet at home.
Two sets of beacons were at CES this year, one in a big way and one not. The one in a big way was the beaconing of parts of the massive Las Vegas Convention Center as a joint venture between International CES and Radius Networks. The stated idea behind that one was so that "2015 attendees can now navigate exhibit and conference session locations via CES app."
One of the issues along the trajectory of beacons has been for consumers to have Bluetooth on their phones turned on. There are other obstacles, of course, such as needing a designated app for whatever beaconed environment a consumer is in as well as having that consumer agree to receive messaging or offers triggered by beacons as they approach or pass by.
Mobile commerce doesn't operate in a vacuum. After attending numerous sessions during the official Press Day of CES, held before the opening day of the main International CES today, it strikes me still as somewhat apparent that if not the virtual hub, the smartphone will play a role in much of the high-tech electronics world. The pre-CES media events are held at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Convention Center, about as far away as you can get from the Las Vegas Convention Center, where most of CES will be held.
Fitness trackers, mobile payments, drones and electronic gadgets for every conceivable use are being pitched to the media and soon to those who would sell them to consumers. We just finished the first of the two-day, pre-CES show before the mega convention opens later this week and based on what we've seen so far, this is another year of, at the very least, technological innovations hoping to resonate with a large enough number of consumers in solving problems to drive a viable business.