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The Basics of Beacons and the Implications for Businesses

Posted by Rich Reis on July 27, 2015 at 9:57 AM

Basics of beaconsRetail stores across the United States now have the opportunity to outfit their properties with Facebook beacons, which provide a new method of pushing content to smartphone users within a certain radius. Facebook is offering this relatively simple beacon technology at no cost because they are seeking a high degree of adoption from brick-and-mortar operations. The potential marketing payoff of this technology is huge, but consumers also stand to benefit from this new channel.

The beacon devices were initially tested among a small group of stores in New York City. According to Re/code, that trial run was successful, which paved the way for the permanent deployment of the latest tech innovation to hit the retail sector. This technology has now been released on a broader scale.

How Does Beacon Technology Work?

Facebook's beacons are small devices that have the ability to send content to smartphones that come within a certain proximity of your retail location. You can use these devices to alert potential customers about an ongoing sale or provide them with coupons. In this way, you can use beacon technology to entice shoppers to enter your retail locations. But you can also use beacons to make social content available to potential consumers. As such, these devices create a new medium through which you can increase awareness and interest about your brand. This technology functions similarly to Facebook's Place Tips, as both supplement customers' physical shopping experience with mobile integration.

Implications For Businesses

There are many incentives for businesses to embrace beacon technology. First, as mentioned above, this technology is available for free with Facebook. In addition, businesses that use these devices can benefit from Facebook's incredible targeting solutions, which surpass those of their competitors. Furthermore, this technology can be particularly useful for businesses that only run brick-and-mortar operations, as beacons provide a platform on which they can compete with online stores and attract mobile shoppers. This allows customers to combine a tech-savvy shopping experience with in-person browsing.

In the future, Facebook may start to use beacon technology for paid advertising, as this seems like an inevitable evolution. But that doesn't mean that brands can't benefit from this technology in the meantime. In fact, early adopters could gain an even greater advantage by staying ahead of the curve.

Given the success of Facebook's test run, it is likely that beacons will prove to be a beneficial and popular resource for retail companies. This new technology has the potential to truly change customers' shopping experiences, and, because Facebook is giving away their beacons for free, this shopping evolution will likely take place at a rapid rate.

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Topics: Mobile Optimization and Advertising, Social Media Marketing

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