After its quiet announcement of a new feature called iBeacon back in June, Apple hasn’t revealed a whole lot about its potential and intended purposes. That hasn’t kept us from being very interested. What iBeacon does is it allows a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) enabled device to turn into a beacon that has the ability to transmit data to iOS7 devices once they’re in range (within 160 feet). They’re extremely significant because they have location accuracy higher even than GPS. Recently, the interest of retailers (like Macy’s) has been piqued because these iBeacons can be used to geofence areas like indoor spaces. They do this using signal emitters or other iOS devices that are low-cost.
Retailers have jumped on and begun rolling out this technology for an entirely unique shopping experience. iBeacon’s potential isn’t limited to the retail sector, but we’re seeing some big moves made in that department with the help of this technology. The company Shopkick deployed the first iBeacon presence signal at any major retailer on November 20th, 2013 –it’s called ShopBeacon. Macy’s became the first retailer to adopt this technology. As soon as a customer, who has previously opted in, walks into a store their shopping experience is completely altered.
According to Shopkick’s website:
“ShopBeacon is currently live in a closed beta trial at Macy’s Herald Square, New York and Union Square, SanFrancisco. ShopBeacon can welcome a shopper when she enters a store and show her location-specific deals, discounts, recommendations, and rewards, without her having to remember to open the app. It can also tie at-homebrowsing to in-store benefit—if she “likes” a specific product in the app, shopBeacon can remind her when she enters the store that sells it. It can also deliver department-specific offers throughout the store—so the boots she liked show up at the most useful time—in the Shoe department. ShopBeacon requires minimal investment, can be installed by sticking the device on a wall or other flat surface, and has a battery life of five years. Now available for purchasenationwide, it works with the shopkick app with its 6 million+ shoppers, as well as with retailers’ own apps.”
ShopBeacon is just the start of this revolutionary technology. The retail experience will never be the same. iBeacon has provided a completely unique way for consumers to engage in their shopping experiences. Beyond the retail realm, iBeacon presents a revolutionary opportunity for app developers who are interested in indoor mapping, mobile payments and targeted advertising. It’s already been mention that Major League Baseball said it has plans to use iBeacon technology at some stadiums and Apple is expected to roll it out in its retail stores.
We’ll continue to keep an eye on iBeacon and see where it reaches next. I for one think that this is definitely the next huge thing; this is going to change the face of advertising, marketing, and apps. Stay tuned.
See my sources for the article in the more links section below.