How iBeacons are Revolutionizing the Retail Environment
iBeacon refers to a trademark used in indoor positioning system. Apple Inc. also popularly refers the device as a new class of low cost transmitters that have capability of notifying nearby iOS 7 devices of their availability. This technology is commonly utilized smartphones, as well as other devices in performing specific functions when they are in close range with an iBeacon. Most IBeacons are low cost, hardware pieces that can be attached to a countertop or a wall. The devices utilize low energy, are battery friendly and consist of Bluetooth connections, which directly transmits prompts or messages on either a smartphone or a tablet. In essence, IBeacons are poised to revolutionalize how retailers, educational institutions, transit systems, event systems and enterprises communicate and interact with people indoors. Many consumers have come to refer to this product as a home automation system.
Shellerker (2014) observes that iBeacons are poised to change the shopping and retail experience forever. The gadget makes it possible for consumers and users to access location based information including those that are relevant and targeted for a particular product that focuses on the fixture they are looking at. Further, iBeacons enable brands or retailers to directly communicate with users both at the store level, at a fixture or an aisle. Subsequently, this will make it possible for customers to find what they need at their proximity, as well as enable retailers to widen its market base alongside increasing interaction with them.
A study performed by BI intelligence (2014) showcases that users are comfortable with IBeacons since they have greatly influenced their in-store- shopping experience. The study went on to establish that more than half of adults in America utilized their mobile phones in stores. These devices are widely used by consumers in America in automating their homes at a low cost. For instance, IBeacons are used in turning on lights in rooms as soon as an individual with smartphones has entered the room, opened window or door shades.
Apple Inc is among the many companies that are utilizing iBeacons in a limited capacity in all its stores by the end of 2013. By using the official application for Apple store for iphone, users are able to do shopping for new items, place and pick an order, as well as check eligibility of iPhone upgrade. However, Apple’s endeavor in this field is currently being challenged by Qualcomm and Paypal, which are developing and implementing their own iBeacons. Smaller entitities such as GPshopers, Swirl, and Estimote have entered into the mix of Ibeacon management and consultation on top of the software and hardware platforms (McFarland, 2014, 1)
Despite this product raising concerns related to privacy to some users, there is a positive benefit for both consumers and retail brands from the exchange. Offers can be marketed by retailers to customers whom they know of being interested with a particular product. Additionally, IBeacons could aid users navigate a massive store in finding items that they are looking for.
Based on the trend of IBeacon development and application by retailers, it is certain that they are poised to take off and subsequently revolutionize the retail environment.